Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Office Cup Cake


Mug Cake Finale

Mug cakes are not new things. However, over the years, many have lost the simplicity of being able to make a cake in a mug at the office. Too many ingredients, and some are even a packaged deal (yuck!). I’ll use the excuse for making a chocolate treat that it’ll help by being even a little healthy, and keep you from strangling your supervisor. When I worked in an office I would’ve died for one of these at 3:00 in the afternoon! Every office I’ve ever worked at has been like an internment in a walk-in cooler! Fresh-hot-chocolate cake – YES !!! These days, there are as many recipes for these as there are stars in the sky, but one’s too complicated, one’s not sweet enough, one’s got an oily taste,…after a few tries, I thought about two things ; what’s my favorite chocolate cake, and what’s in an office fridge. First answer : Mayonnaise Cake. As a child my Mom would make this uber moist chocolate cake for my birthday every year. The secret? Mayo…it has all the eggs, oil, and salt, vinegar and other binders all in one package. Second question: What’s in the average office fridge? Coffee cream, milk, mayo, mustard, a bowl of misc condiment packets, some butter substitute crap, week old fried rice, hockey-puck bagels, and whatever the office Vegan brought in for lunch (no one would dare touch). Reminiscent of a bachelor pad fridge,…if he was schizophrenic. No, there are NEVER leftover donuts…EVER. 
OK, now let’s look over those mug-cake recipes of the flops…yes, I can rebuild it – make it better - 

Office Cup Cake

Note: Feel free to make up the dry ingredients at home and toss in a tiny Zip-Loc, with the instructions and list of wet additions written on the label.

Step 1:

1/4 Cup Flour
2 Tbl Cocoa Powder, unsweetened dutch process 
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
2-1/2 Tbl Sugar (if you like it ‘sweet’ make it 3 full Tbl Sugar)
1 Tbl Mayo (you can use Vegenaise) – That’s about the same amount in one of those cafeteria squeeze packs. Convenient, no?
1/4 Cup Milk (I think you could probably use some slightly watered down coffee cream too – no fake stuff though)
Get the dry into your coffee mug and mix. 

Mug Cake Step 1
Step 2:

Add in the wet and mix until it’s like cake batter.

Mug Cake Step 2
Step 3:

Pop it in the microwave for 1:15 or 1:30 depending on your oven. Keep an eye on it the first time. It should raise up, but look a bit undone on the top – that’s ok. That cup’s nuclear! It’ll continue to cook. Make sure you’ve got something to set it on, lest you melt your mouse pad! 
Your 3:00 slup is over !! How long did it all take? Well, less time than the guy 3 cubicles down takes for a smoke-break! 

Mug Cake Step 3
Now, if you really want to be the office darling, break out that jar of Nutella that’s hiding in your desk drawer – I know it’s there! Before you nuke your mug, put a dollop of Nutella in the middle of the batter. You don’t have to mash it, it’ll be there warm and yummy, melty goodness, with the cooked cake all around it. Like a Lava Cake only with N U T E L L A !!!!
Yes, I did just make your day better – you’re welcome. Now get back to work!

Mug Cake Finale
Michelle Beal

Earth Day 2014

Observations on Earth Day

Today is the 44th anniversary of Earth Day.  I was a sophomore in high school back on April 22, 1970 and I remember a couple of the boys in my class outside picking up litter in honor of the special day.  My thought was that there were probably easier ways to get out of school.

Forty-four years later and now my thoughts turn to the number one environmental issue in Citrus County and perhaps the rest of the world.  Our water. Can’t live without it.  But we certainly aren’t doing enough to save it.   Gerry Mulligan, the publisher of our local newspaper, The Citrus Chronicle, wrote an excellent and thought-provoking column this past Sunday “It’s Spring, and that means its time to get cleaning” regarding our local water problems.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  He covers many of the issues that we are faced with regarding our water.

Back in January, Terry and I attend the annual meeting of the Friends of the Crystal River Natural Wildlife Refuge Complex.  John Moran, a Florida nature photographer was the featured speaker. State Senator Charlie Dean, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation, attended the meeting in order to meet Mr. Moran. Senator Dean said that saving our water was on the top on his agenda for his remaining three years in office.  At the time, I was skeptical that Senator Dean would actually make that effort but I’ve been following his activities in the newspaper and he really has made a huge attempt to get water legislation passed.  Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House, Representative Will Weatherford has no interest in the subject and has decided that it can wait until the next session or most likely never.   So we have no support from our state government.

And then there’s our local county commissioners that are in constant turmoil with personality conflicts. So I’m not expecting any help there, either. Even the local groups and clubs that are out there trying to save the water can’t get along.

Which leaves it up to us individuals.  This is such a huge issue, but we can still make an impact. First, take care of your septic systems.  Until the state government passes legislation to pull the septic tanks out in these environmentally sensitive areas, it’s up to us to make sure that our septic tanks and drainage fields are up to par.  

Stop overwatering your yards.  Yeah, I have that water-sucking fertilizer-demanding St Augustine grass in my backyard.  But I’m making an effort to limit it to a smaller area and eventually eliminate it completely. And I only water when the grass shows distress.  

Fertilize before the rainy summer season starts so the fertilizer doesn’t end up in our aquifer. And keep fertilizer and pesticides at least 10 feet away from the water.  

And now I wind this up by asking, Why did you move to the Nature Coast?  Yeah, we have no state income tax and sales tax is only 6%, pretty cheap compared to the rest of the country.  But I moved here for the NATURE in the Nature Coast.  I want my otters and manatees to live and prosper.  I want to be able to hike and bike on our trails.  I want to kayak in clear water.  I want to sit on a beach that is unspoiled by the drainage from our septic tanks.  I want our blue springs to stay clear.  And, most importantly, I want to have clean water to drink.  For me.  My grandkids.  And my great grandkids.  

And then it’s Monday…

 “April showers bring May flowers” does not apply to Florida. Usually April is the dryest month of the year.  But this year (and last) we’ve had lots of rain.  No chance of drought this spring!  Which caused our outdoor weekend plans to be cancelled which made me sad.  But on the bright side, my gardens and yard are very happy!  And I’m not running my sprinkler system which makes my wallet overjoyed!  

Roosters in rain gear

Even our favorite yard art donned rain gear this weekend!