Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Warmup

Yesterday was the warm-up, I guess. A day of drizzle and dark skies...what seems to be my typical laundry day. Pink hunter boots on, and arms filled to the brim with dirty clothing.

Today is a little bit more angry. I almost never cancel work, because a. I like working b. I get lonely being home alone and c. I don't get paid for time off. But, the weather reports sufficiently scared me. Even though I will be a little bit annoyed if it ends up being the usual New England hyperbole of a storm (Stock up! Snow storm of  the century! We'll be locked in for days!) I am also hoping very much that it is just that. Because otherwise we're in for some trouble. And I didn't even buy out of grocery stores supply of canned goods!
     I am, however, crossing my fingers that Nicks classes tonight get cancelled so I don't turn into a Crazy Dog Lady (which I am apt to do if left alone for more than 6 hours....and yesterday filled that quota) and so that we can spend an evening cuddled up watching old movies on netflix on our laptops since we don't have a t.v. In anticipation of this possibility, I am in the process of making a warm, filling, satisfying lentil-sausage stew. I'll have that up tomorrow.

Last night was Sunday Dinner at the McBride  Hanlon household. Growing up, dinner was the thing. Every single night, my mother cooked a truly delectable meal and when she whistled the dinner whistle (I almost cried just now because I can't, for my life, remember that whistle tune) we would all come down to the table. She was an excellent cook- good cooking is a Clarke family trait (my mothers maiden name) and my grandmother, aunt, and mother take/took great pride in putting a good meal on the table. No boxed or frozen meals, if you please

Here I am with Grandma Clarke,  the matriarch, who still does yoga and wears high heels on the daily.
 My friends loved coming over to my house for dinner when I was a teenager,  not only for the food, but also for the conversation. We would sometimes sit for hours at the table, having alternately funny or serious talks with my parents and sibling, while eating whatever wonderful creation my mother had made. My sister and I both love being in the kitchen (baby sister took it to a whole new level with culinary art school) and we both started cooking early on.
Baby Chef Sister and me

I remember being a very little girl, maybe eight or nine, in the kitchen with my mother, learning as much as I could take in. My mother was an inventor and an adapter, and so am I. She showed her family her love through what she prepared for them, and now, so do I.

Today, my family is all over the place. My little sister lives with my dad in Thailand, where we grew up.
My preternaturally young looking father and me
My brother and his sweet, lovely wife live in Syracuse with their overwhelmingly adorable baby boy whom I miss every single day.
Yes this is my brother, and yes we are blood related.
Please note his sailor suit. Complete with a tiny tie.

Sometimes I am filled with the loneliness, missing them. But two days ago my brother called me and said they would be hopefully coming to stay with us through Christmas. And that thrilled me. To be able to cook meals for them, decorate a tree, give gifts, and most of all, snuggle my little nephew is maybe the most exciting thing. The holiday season is upon us. Hurrah!

 Anyway. That was a longwinded beginning to the Hanlon Sunday Dinner. Last night, Nick and I enjoyed a quiet, happy night in together. I made a grown up version of a kid classic: Ravioli and Meatball Soup. Light, satisfying, and delicious. With a special Dulce de Leche cake to follow. Which made it a special meal, which made it a Sunday meal.

Our Sunday Spread

The Ravioli and Meatball soup combined meatballs made the way my mother made them (except with Turkey) and a light, savory tomato beef broth filled with carrots, onions, spinach, brussel sprouts, and mini cheese ravioli's.Oh and a cheese rind. See? Grown up.


1/2 tbs olive oil
1/4 finely chopped onion
3 large cloves finely chopped garlic
1 chopped carrot
 1/2 cup chopped spinach
3 chopped brussel sprouts
1 Parmesan cheese rind
1 tbs each oregano, parsley, sage, herbs de provence
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 cup small, dried ravioli
48 oz container of beef broth
4 tbs tomato sauce (any kind)

Thank goodness for a well stocked spice rack.


1/4 cup chopped fine onion
1/2 tbs parsley
1/2 tbs oregano
1 egg white
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs (or so) cornmeal
1/2 lb ground turkey meat
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot (I used my lovely red cast iron pot, thank you Annika!) heat the olive oil and saute the garlic, onion, and carrot with a little bit of salt and pepper. Once they are translucent, pour in the broth, and add all of the spices, the tomato sauce, and the cheese rind. Cover the pot, and let it simmer.

Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs, and get your hands good and dirty mashing them up. Once the broth is boiling, drop the meatballs in one by one. As you can see in the picture up there, I made them pretty small so they would cook fast.

After about three minutes, add the brussell sprouts and spinach. Let this simmer for another five minutes. Then turn the heat up and bring the soup to a boil. Add in the ravioli and cook until they are just soft, about seven minutes.

Serve it up, top with cheese and dig in. 

After you warm yourself up with the soup, start in on dessert! Now, this Dulce de Leche cake was inspired by an outrageously delicious treat I had at Pepperland Cafe in our downtown. It was a yellow cake soaked in condensed milk and topped with fresh whipping cream. My version was not quite as light and fluffy because, and I am writing this mostly to bring a quiet joy to my sisters heart (because she would NEVER do this) I add...baking powder.

But you won't forget. And since it was tasty sans baking powder, just think how much better it will be with it!

Yellow Cake

1 1/8 cups flour
just under 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup baking powder (woops) 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Combine dry ingredients and add shortening, milk, and vanilla. Mix and then add the egg. Beat batter for a little under a minute and then pour into an 8 inch cake pan and bake at 350 for around thirty minutes.
Take it out, and poke it all over with a fork. Then, pour maybe 1/4 cup or so of (unsweetened) condensed milk over it, soaking it into the holes. (Side note: My apartment just shook due to an enormous gust of Hurricane wind.) 

Next, make some fresh whipping cream. I used about 1/2 cup of whipping cream, a tbs of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to make mine. beat it up till it rises in little peaks. 

Then, slice the cake, top it off with the whipping cream, and enjoy a decadent treat. 

The end. Hopefully you, like me, are very bored today and stuck inside and thus read this entire, ridiculously long entry. And since you have nothing to do (right?), you can go ahead and cook up one of  these (or both of these) dishes for tonight. Nothing beats hurricanes like hot soup. I'm pretty sure that's in the bible. 


  1. Hilarious. And don't worry the little one need reminding of missed ingredients too

  2. You capture it every time Hannah. Thank you for warm memories. I love you and miss you.

  3. Hannah, Beautiful pictures and beautiful memories of your Mom. Good to know that you girls are following in her tradition.
    Pam Cooper (Candace's mom)

  4. Very heartwarming. It is great that your Mom was able to instill a love of family and food in your life. I remember all you kids in the kitchen cooking in Thailand. I was SO impressed! And you cleaned up too when you were done! Now I have a blossoming 12 year old chef of my own. Paxson loves to cook (and eat!) My 14 year old Colin just loves to be served...
    Your food blog is very inspiring. And I love how your life and voice comes through every word.
    --Lora Van

  5. servantsheartheart519@gmail.comOctober 31, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Such a lovely woman you've become - love how you honor the memory of your mother - I wished we'd had a chance to meet. Congratulations Hannah on your marriage! Living Simply...we should all aspire to this. You inspire me...

    Be well,
    Susan Donnelly


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