Vegan chocolate cake. Mmmm.

Who said you needed eggs to bake an awesomely delish chocolate cake?  Well, Dianne, C’s mom, sure never did.

While at home last week, my poor dad discovered, though the help of a scratch test and an astute (would we want them any other way?) allergist, that he is allergic to eggs and dairy, and that he’s really going to need to start monitoring his diet if he wants to feel better.

This diagnosis has thrown things at the Berninger house into a bit of a tailspin, as, like I have mentioned in previous posts, my dad is a breakfast lover and craves a good dessert.  He’s also a GREAT maker and drinker of milkshakes and really enjoys half-and-half in his…everything.  The brakes are on now.

Of course, there are many choices and substitutes out there for people with food allergies and he’s actually lucky to be developing (or re-developing in his case) this allergy at a time when almond milk is on the shelves at the neighborhood grocery and there are more butter alternatives than one can count.

When I started dating Chris, Dianne gave me this recipe.  It’s her favorite easy chocolate cake and she makes it for herself every now and again.  Chris grew up eating it as a simple weekday dessert.  Come to find out, it was developed during World War II while items like milk and eggs were rationed.  It contains pantry items.

My dad can (and should!) eat this!

Here’s what you need:

8 x 8 baking dish
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt

6 tbs. oil (vegetable, corn or canola)
1 tbs. vinegar (apple cider vinegar works best, but is not required!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup water


In the 8 x 8 baking dish, mix all dry ingredients together.  I use a whisk so things don’t get too out of hand.


Then, with your hands, make three holes in the mixture and pour the oil, vinegar and vanilla into the holes.  I put two tbs. of oil into each of the holes, fill one hole with vinegar and the other with vanilla.  There are so many possibilities and variations on this step.

VeganCake3After that, pour the cup of water over the whole mixture.


Mix.  Rubber spatulas work well!


Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Ensure the middle is done by sticking a toothpick in the center of the cake.  Let cool.

Then you can fancy it up and sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top…though this is not necessary.  It’s perfect on its own!



Homeward bound.

After this most insane few weeks, a little country time is just what we need (and then some city time too.)  It’s time to catch up with family and friends and celebrate the wedding of my cousin!

It’s apple picking season in Columbia County and I’m looking forward to some crisp, pie, cider, doughnuts…

One fall a long time ago, when I was in elementary school, my mom wasn’t home when Michael and I got off the bus and we were locked out of the house.  We went to our neighbor’s home, where Mrs. Hatfield was making her boys an after-school snack.  She peeled and cut apples into slices and mixed them with cinnamon and sugar and served them to us in bowls.  THAT was the afternoon snack before dinner.  Michael and I were in heaven.  In our house we didn’t put sugar on apples (sweet enough) or cereal (except at our grandfather’s house).  We kept the crust on bread (the BEST part).  We ate the peels to everything.  So this was QUITE the treat.

I’m sure momma had to send us outside to swing or hang from trees in the woods when she got home to quell our sugar rush.

Look who’s waiting for me and C!  See ya soon, Glitter Kitty!


When you miss a cat.

When I find myself missing Miles Glitter Kitty, I like to Google “cute cat things” on the internet.

I found these the last time I did that.

These just spoke to me.

Thank you Seo Kim for your fun, witty drawings.


Meow, meow, meow.

Miles does NOT appreciate any of these hugging actions–except sometimes Heat Pad Cat with my dad.  He’s  very independent.  Some would call it aloof.  I call it thoughtful.


So true.


If C knew me when I was single and living with Miles, he would have felt like this — second fiddle.  Gulp.

Follow Seo (pronounced Sue) Kim on Tumbler.

And in a wonderful news, we get to see Miles next week.  Yay!

Other summer news item.

Here’s a photo of us at our friends’ wedding at the Broadmoor this past weekend.

What do you think?


Oooh.  I feel a bit bigger than I used to feel, say 18 weeks ago.  Specifically around the middle.

Know why?

If you guessed it’s because I’m settling into married life, you are so right.  If you guessed it’s because I’m eating a whole lotta cheese, you’re ALSO right.

But the main reason is…we’re expecting a baby (!)  Babies make you bigger…specifically around the middle.

Our calendars are marked for a due date of February 14, and we are so excited!

I’ll say something about the first trimester, then I want to forget it ever happened.

It was not fun (and the trimester took full swing during the height of another one of Denver’s hot, dry summers, so it felt extra not fun).

Several times a week between weeks seven and twelve I was queasy–often all day.  It was fairly miserable.  My cravings during weeks six through thirteen were celery, iced water, french bread, salt, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  And sleep.  SLEEP.

Riding in cars made me sick.  Thinking about eating salad made me sick.  Brushing my teeth made me sick.  Talking about brushing my teeth made me sick.

Do not read further if you can’t handle stories about people throwing up.

My mom thinks this is a funny story to remember, so I’ll tell you.  After Chris and I were house hunting one day and we’d taken a look at one of the sweetest little bungalows you’ve ever set eyes on in the West Highland neighborhood of Denver, I had a craving for a BLT…and some fries.  I wanted to go to our favorite Greek place in Congress Park, Chef Zorbas.  So we drove straight there from our viewing of the house in West Highland.  We parked the car in front of the small market next to Chef Zorba’s and I suddenly had a terrible feeling.  I started yelling to Chris, “Oh gaw, oh gaw…get me out of here!  How do the locks work on this car!?”  And with that, I tore out of the passenger side and threw up so hard behind the back bumper into the street gutter that my glasses fell off and smacked on the pavement.

It was loud and retching.  It was violent.  Chris got out of the car and said, “Honey!  Are you okay?  Is this what happens to you every day after I leave for work?”  Yes.  Yes it is.  I think it was a good thing for him to see.  Meanwhile, there were some romantical couples eating al fresco on the sidewalk in front of Chef Zorba’s who had to witness the awfulness.  The owner of the market, Patrick, came out with a bottle of water for me.  ”Tell him I’m not drunk,” I said to Chris in between bouts of projectile bile.  ”Congratulations, kids!  Another baby in the neighborhood!”  Patrick said to Chris.

Ugh.  First trimester.  Summed up.

But the second trimester, so far, is off to a great start.  We’re slowly getting back to normal.  I’m feeling more energetic and can eat pretty much how I loved eating before–a bit more healthfully.  I’m not gorging on as much bread and celery and that’s kind of a nice feeling.  And like I said, I was out until the wee hours on Saturday night, partying with the heartiest of wedding goers.  I have the energy to throw in loads of laundry without falling asleep during the dry cycle.  It’s awesome!

On to our next adventure!

This weather.

This rainy, cool weather makes me want to snuggle up on the sofa at Queechy with a good book and a cup of tea and laze the day away.  One of my favorite memories that I go back to often in my mind is waking up on a cool late-summer morning to thunderstorms and hard rain on the roof over the loft in the cottage.  It’s a recurring memory, as it happened several times a summer during my childhood.

This is the very best dreaming weather.  The very best kitty cat cuddle weather.  The most wonderful hot chocolate with Marshmallow Fluff weather.

It is a comfort to have a bit of this Columbia County sky here in Denver today.

Queech1[ain't it just grand?]


Feeling farm-y.

A few weeks back, we met C’s dad, Jeff, to drive up to his friend’s farm in Brighton.  Jeff has a goose blind on the farm property and has been friends with Bob for many years.

I’ve been wanting to check Bob’s farm out ever since C brought home a 10-pound bag of onions after hunting geese there with his dad.  They were basically the best onions I’ve ever had.  We ate them for weeks and each one was perfect.

I knew the farm was big, but I didn’t realize it was 3,000 acres big.  The farms I know in Columbia County and the Hudson Valley are generally a few hundred acres – if that (mix in a lot of dairy and orchards).  The biggest farm I know about in the county I grew up in is Samascott Orchards – coming in at a whopping 1,000 acres.

Right now, Sakata Farms is finishing up the harvest of their delicious sweet corn.  It’s a bumper crop this year.  We rode out to the field that had been harvested Saturday morning and ate raw corn off the stalk (C is still thrilled by this!)  It was delicious.  No butter or salt needed.

Our visit reminded me of stopping by Gould’s farm in the late summer with my dad and brother as kids and picking corn from Gordy’s field.  We were dwarfed by the large corn stalks in the small field he had planted near the road, for his friends and family to pick at their leisure.

Bob Sakata is a Renaissance Man for certain.  He’s in his mid-eighties but is the brains of the operations behind an incredible business.  Sakata ships pinto beans to Mexico, corn to Saint Louis, sells feed to elevators that ship all over the world.  Locally, he sells produce to Safeway and King Soopers, but you can find his corn as far away as Maryland.

I did make sure to ask him if he’s ever sold corn in upstate New York.  ”That market’s covered,” he said.  Oh yes, it most certainly is!

Cheers to a happy corn season!


The beautiful Broadmoor.

C and I had the pleasure of attending the gorgeous wedding of a wonderful couple at The Broadmoor this weekend in Colorado Springs.

I was thrilled when I learned our friends were having their wedding at this historic resort. Rarely do we go to Colorado Springs and I’ve always wanted to stay at The Broadmoor.  I tend to forget how very different the Springs are from Denver.  It’s pine country and angled right up against the steep mountains.

From high tea on our arrival to a bagpipe processional of the wedding guests across the bridge over Cheyenne Lake to the Lake Terrace Dining Room, it was all pretty magical.  We stayed out celebrating until the wee hours.

Congratulations, Lisa and Stan!  We love you!

This morning, we enjoyed Sunday brunch at the resort.  It was incredible.

Broadmoor1So many kinds of salmon. [Wish I liked eating salmon.]

And then, we walked the resort’s acres and checked out the rest of the place, including the beautiful pool, retail shops, and many, many chandeliers.



I would like this one for my very own, please.

On our way home from the Springs, we stopped at Seven Falls.  Stunning!