Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Which We Have Neighbors, and Coffeecake

Dear watchful friends,

We live in an area of town that could be loosely described as "sketchy" - around the block from a halfway house, next door to a former drug den, and a half mile from downtown with all of the bustling things that come with a downtown area.  This is a good place to live because there is always somebody nearby that needs our ministering! There's no need for a Christian to live in a Christian neighborhood.

We've had some interesting interactions with our neighbors; once the gal next door wanted to borrow my cell phone so she could call her boyfriend and convince him she wasn't cheating on him, like, at all (I don't think it worked, I haven't seen him since).

Another time the lady upstairs rushed down to my apartment and frantically asked if she could borrow our toilet plunger (I wondered, when I got it back, if I should throw it away and get a new one - but I figured it's just going back in our toilet, so how much grosser can it get, really!?).

Most recently, a friend of our neighbor came over and asked if I could get her keys off my back porch - her boyfriend had apparently gotten mad at her and threw them on to our deck so she couldn't get them. "They're the ones with the little alarm button on them," she said, as if there were multiple sets of keys laying on my deck!

I've always made sure to rip our sensitive information into little shreds when I throw it out, or take it to our parents' house to be shredded in the high-tech wood-burning shredder they have.  This was always just because I was diligently following the admonishments one always hears to prevent identity theft - but who would ever look at our trash?!  As it turns out, when I was walking past our dumpster the other day I saw a man rooting through it who did not live in our four-plex.  I don't know if he was looking for cans to sell or identities to steal, but I was glad I was always careful to rip up credit card applications and insurance advertisements and everything else with our name on it.

Perhaps the most interesting occurrence of late was when I came home from working out and there was a car parked in my parking slot.  Not a big deal - our neighbors park there all the time, and it's just a matter of knocking on doors until you find who owns the car and asking them to move it.  Okay, so that does get annoying; but it's not unusual, to say the least.

This time, nobody knew who owned the car.  Mr H came out and looked at it and commented that it looked like a stolen vehicle.  It had out-of-state plates, the car mats were all flipped up and the contents of the car scattered all over the place, and most tellingly, the stereo system was ripped out.

Mr H was leaving to go work out, so I went inside and contacted the authorities and told them our suspicions.     Sure enough, it was a stolen car; the family picked it up shortly thereafter.

No matter where we live, excitement seems to find us - and I wouldn't have it any other way, of course!

Anything interesting happen to you lately?  Let's hear it!

Mrs H

No-Fuss Coffeecake
This is a shared recipe from one of my absolute favoritest blogs in the world, the King Arthur Flour blog (I love EVERYTHING I have tried from their blog - from gluten-free bread to this delicious coffeecake!) 
P J Hamel, the KAF blogger, suggested making this coffeecake for Christmas Day breakfast, because you can assemble it the night before and bake it in the morning.  I did exactly that - and made it for New Year's Day, as well!  It was a five-star treat.  Perhaps it is our new tradition! 
You can vary the topping ingredients as much as you like based on your taste, but the suggested one works quite splendidly. 

This is the King Arthur Flour photo - I forget to take a
 picture every time I make this! 

12 tablespoons butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon strong flavor, such as butter-rum, vanilla-butternut, etc; or 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream or yogurt (low fat is fine)

Streusel Topping: 
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional - if you don't use these, add equal amount of chips)
1 cup chips (1 -3/4 cup chips if you don't use the nuts), a single kind or a mixture - chocolate, butterscotch, cinnamon, cappuccino, white chocolate, peanut butter ... I used more chips than the recipe calls for :) it was Christmas, after all! 
Optional: I mixed in some butter

Cake: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flavor, mixing until smooth.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flour alternately with the sour cream or yogurt, stirring to combine.

Pour batter into a greased 9x13" baking pan.

Topping: Combine topping ingredients, stirring to combine.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.  If you are adding berries, don't put these on until the morning, just before baking.  

Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, take cake out of fridge and preheat oven to 350F.  Remove the plastic wrap (!) and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until it's golden brown on top.  Serve for a very special birthday, holiday, or just for a big fun breakfast.



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