El Nino, Washing Machine troubles, and a Fruit Tart

Rain, rain, and more rain! It seems like it has been raining here nonstop since Monday! When we lived on the east coast, it wasn’t unusual to have rain for weeks at a time, but this is southern California, land of sunshine!


We definitely need the rain, though the flooding isn’t something we want.

Since it’s been raining, we have been stuck in the house. This means pulling out toys to play with after school is done instead of going outside. Two days ago, it was a wooden train set. Yesterday and today, it will be Legos. Yes, Legos get everywhere but at least they keep little people busy!

Since we haven’t really left the house (until today for piano lessons), this also means I get to bake! And bake and bake and bake! Oh, and make dinner too.

Yesterday, I had all sorts of baking plans, which included apple cider donuts. But then I heard the washing machine making a funny noise in the laundry room, which is right by the kitchen. This meant texting Josh (while he is working in the rain most likely, poor guy) about the washing machine. In the back of my mind, I am thinking, “Yay!  New washing machine!” and also, “No! We don’t really have money for that!” The washing machine was trying to drain the water in the drum but nothing was happening, just a muffled whirring sound.

In the end, Josh came home from work, went back outside to put tarps over the bunny hutch so our bunnies wouldn’t get soaked, then came back in to literally tackle the washing machine. We aren’t sure how old it is since it came with the house when we bought it. I do know that it sometimes coughs up black gunk on a load of laundry and when it does, I get really mad. Anyway, I think Josh took care of the black gunk problem last night by taking the washing machine agitator apart and bleaching all the pieces in the shower. He put the washing machine back together after accidentally draining water from the washer all over the laundry room floor. Yes, we had flooding in the house that had nothing to do with El Nino.

Unfortunately, Josh’s hopeful fixes last night did not work. He is hoping it is the drain pump, so tomorrow he will be trying to replace that. I’m sure if he is successful that he will be posting about it.


My kids use a video streaming school for their homeschooling. This makes it a lot easier for me. I don’t always have to be present and most of my responsibility is in making sure they complete their work, answering any questions that they have, grading papers, and helping them prepare for their tests. This also means that I have time to bake. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread for sandwiches in a while. Our breadmaker is getting a lot of use!

I was at Sprouts on Monday and they had strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries on sale! After I bought them, I realized that I had all the fruit I needed to make a fruit tart. I have also been wanting to try making creme patisserie (pastry cream). So that is what I did yesterday.

I was originally going to make a tart crust using my new tart pan, but I had yet another storebought pie crust waiting in the fridge. To save myself some time yesterday, I just used the ready-made pie crust.

While I was making the pastry cream, Josh texted me that there were tornado warnings in San Diego. I didn’t believe him. Then I checked for myself and there were! Though I think the tornado warning was actually somewhere between a watch and a warning.

I made the mistake of whisking the pastry cream over heat while not paying close attention. It thickened so fast that I was afraid I had ruined it. It was a little lumpier than I would have liked but it still tasted good and smoothed out a bit after I whisked in the butter.

After cooking and before whisking the butter in
After whisking the butter in and ready to go in the fridge

I used Dorie Greenspan’s pastry cream recipe.

After cooking the pastry cream, I put it in the fridge to cool for about an hour and a half before putting it into the pie crust. While Josh was in the laundry room working on the washer, I was in the kitchen assembling the fruit tart.

The completed pie! I mixed some strawberry jelly with a little bit of water to glaze the fruit.

I wanted to get a picture of the pie when it was cut, but it was difficult for Josh to get a neat slice out.

Here is a picture of the pie after being cut. The pastry cream wasn’t runny!

The next time I make pastry cream I think I will want to use it in a Boston Cream pie or cake!


Today, I was able to make my apple cider donuts for the kids as well as a Madeira cake for Josh. I also have a loaf of sourdough in the breadmaker. Hopefully, the bread turns out okay. It seemed very dry at the beginning of the dough cycle so I added water… That could have been a mistake!

My sourdough might be a hard block… We will see!  The donuts and the Madeira cake turned out okay.

Breakfast goodies disappear quickly with the 7 of us! Which is why I have to make more than the 12 donuts. At least there is always someone willing to try what I bake!