by Lisa


My daughter wants to be a spy. Specifically, these days, a CIA operative.

What does this have to do with food, you might wonder?

As we’ve been working our way through the library holdings of spy books for children, I re-found of course, Harriet the Spy, which is one of the best books for children that’s ever been written.  Harriet is wedded to routine, including her spy route, Ole Golly, her coveted notebooks, and a snack of cake and milk every day after school.

Back in January when we were reading the book, we had a house full of leftover fresh cakes:  my Chocolate Guinness birthday cake (in which we substituted the easy glacage in this recipe for the frosting), the Obama cake which is really just an Everyday Cocoa Cake + said glacage + fondant).   One day, with all that cake lying around about to go stale, I had an epiphany:

If I grew up eating cookies and milk after school, why couldn’t my kids have a very small slice of homemade cake and milk?

I decided that what was good for the goose was good for the goslings,  and we started our own Harriet the Spy ritual:  cake + milk every day after school.  Seriously.

This was a big hit with the offspring, of course, solved the problems of all those leftovers, and even made homework a lot more pleasant on tired days.

To keep the cakes  fresh, I cut them into very thin slices, wrapped them in Gladwrap (that spaceage weird plastic that sticks to everything. It’s not green, but used sparingly in your home it is perfect for jobs like this), and froze the whole batch in a gallon ziplock freezer bag.


Now, each day, I can take out 2 small slices, which defrost very quickly.  It gives me unreasonable pleasure to set out the cake on two small plates with two small glasses of milk.

This is an amazingly economical strategy, too–absolutely the recessionista way to give your kids fun snacks.  Recently, when we ran out of our chocolate cakes, I baked a cardamom vanilla pound cake, which was pretty enormous, and delicious. We had two family desserts from it (above, with whipped cream), and still enough leftovers for 2-3 weeks of afterschool snacks.   (Remember, very small slices of something really good is very satisfying. Plus you don’t want to ruin dinner.) Even though the cardamom and vanilla is expensive, at this rate, I figure I can bake about once a month, and have a real treat in the house.  The side benefit is that when they beg for dessert you can remind them they already had it.