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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CDOT Cake Show Oct.9 and 10, 2010

This past weekend I entered a cake in the Cake Decorators of Tidewater 27th Annual Cake Show. I placed second in the advanced tiered division. My cake was inspired by a gift bag that I bought from Michael's a couple of years ago.

Any decorator could tell you how they see things in a CAKE way. Inspiration comes from everywhere, and that's the way I felt about this gift bag. I drew a sketch of how I wanted to decorate the cake, but after I covered the dummies in fondant I just wasn't feeling it. At 10 o'clock p.m. on 10/08/10 the decision came that I would do a sculpted cake. Since there was no time to bake a cake from scratch, I flew to the grocery store to buy some mixes. On my way back home it hit me....I registered for F22, advanced tiered, so no baking and sculpting would be done that night.

I had to finish what I started and luckily for me it turned out better than I thought.

The colors were blue, brown, and orange. I used royal icing on the accented characters on the cake and then painted them with gold, blue, and burgundy luster dusts.

P.S. This beauty below these words is now mines. I won it at the show and definitely could NOT contain my excitement. It's a pistachio Artisan KitchenAid. Isn't she gawjus?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Corolla, North Carolina

My girlfriend and I went to Corolla because I wanted a glimpse, and hopefully, a photograph or two of the wild horses. I decided that I wanted to have a picnic, so I knew the cake would have to be travellable(I know, I know, no such word).

There was buttermilk in my fridge that needed to be used, so that ingredient in the recipe was a must. No frosting needed and moist without it, most definitely! Since I had been craving cinnamon, it had to show up, otherwise it would just be thrown in. Looking through Tish Boyle's The Cake Book I came across her recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake and found it to be the perfect take along dessert.

This pound cake was so moist that I could eat piece after piece and not need to down a large cup of ice milk(yes I have to have ice in my milk to drink it). I think the next time, though, the cinnamon portion will just be cinnamon sugar instead of the flour, butter, cinnamon sugar mixture.

All in all, this recipe is a picnic must. Oh, who am I kidding, it's a must no matter the occasion.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

4,6, and 10

I am planning on entering another cake competition this year, but this time I am entering the wedding cake part along with the tasting(again). This cake was a practice run for two recipes and decorating. I tried a Swiss White Chocolate cake recipe, for the second time I might add, and it helped me to finalize the fact that white chocolate has no flavor. The crumb of this recipe is unsightly also....see below. Give me some bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in cooking and it's excitement, give me white chocolate and I wonder, WHY?!

I'm sure there are recipes out there that have white chocolate that are fantastic, maybe. Anyways, the other cake was Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Blackberry cake and since I had made some berry slick'em, which is like a blackberry syrup, I stirred some in the batter and spread the rest between the cake layers. I cut this recipe in thirds because I didn't need 18 cups, and it was enough for a 10" round.

The frosting was Elisa Strauss' Swiss Meringue Buttercream from her Confetti Cakes book. The fondant was marshmallow fondant and the flowers were real.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spongebob for my nephew

My nephew's birthday was June 29th, but all my baking supplies were in storage so I couldn't do his cake. He told us that his birthday was going to continue until he got his cake. This cake was a little less than a month late, but better late than never.

The flavor he wanted was the same as last year, banana strawberry, and I wanted to try a different recipe so I used Dorie Greenspan's Lots of Ways Banana Cake. I boiled some strawberry jam with a little water and spooned it over the cake. The icing was strawberry flavored, so he was able to have both flavors.

My girlfriend ate the scraps and said the cake was good, hopefully my nephew did too.

Happy 5th Quantay!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The garden

My parents are from Alabama and have grown up around gardens, on a much larger scale I might say, so it comes as no surprise when my father started a garden. This year, the garden included some items I started at home from seeds. As you can tell I am excited since I have never done anything like that.

I always thought that you needed a yard to grow anything since that's all I saw growing up. Wrong! There is this wonderful book called Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail of that shows how to grow fruits, vegetables, plants..... in small spaces. After hearing about this book I knew that I could do this. My mother said, "I didn't know you had a green thumb." Read on!

Before all this, though, the story goes back a little further. Back in middle school...the 80's...I, for some odd reason, decided that my science project was going to involve acetaminophen and a pothos. I wanted to know the affect Tylenol would have on the plant so of course one plant was fed the drug along with water and the other was just plain water.

I am in my 30's and my parents still have those plants and they are growing, growing, growing. Needless to say, I had to remind my mother of these plants and the crazy idea I had for a science project.

Most of the photos are from my father's crop and one is of my tomato plants, while the sage is my nephew's. It feels good to grow your own food without all the "extras" the grocery stores have.

Oh, yeah, I am already planning more for next year since I know it can be done.





Saturday, June 12, 2010

Even though I can't get in the kitchen like I used to

I still try to take my camera with me everywhere just in case I get to catch something. Enjoy!

Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach

Leaves from a tree in Downtown Portsmouth
Mt. Trashmore Virginia Beach
My niece in Norfolk

My nephew in Chesapeake

Monday, May 17, 2010

This time last year was the beginning of my blog journey. My purpose was to get me to try more recipes, meet others in the blogosphere, and better my writing. I tried more recipes indeed, I have met others, but not on a level of being life long friends(at least not yet), but my writing is still mediocre. I try to add more content than I did in the beginning, but it still remains blahhh.

I guess that means I am just not a writer, I am a talker. I express myself more when talking and with my body language. Sometimes you can change who you are and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't. This is one defeat I will take and understand it just isn't meant to be.

I wish I could have come with photos, but my situation is still the same and time is not evident in my life right now. Understand this one thing, when I do get back in the swing of things, I won't know how to stop. I have been going through cooking, baking, decorating, sewing, and photography withdrawals and it needs to be rectified as soon as possible.....ASAP!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lack of posting

In one month my life change for what I believe is the better. My family and I had to move from a place we've lived for 8 1/2 years because the landlord wanted to sell it. I had some Heaven sent landlords so I was not upset at all. I am currently still looking for a place, but thank GOD for family.

My oldest daughter graduates in a month, so you know that is a busy situation. I started a new job, which has kept me pretty busy. So, needless to say, time is not on my side right now. I had to let Tuesdays With Dorie and The Daring Kitchen go due to less time and not having kitchen space/ cooking utensils. I am hoping that when my Blogiversary comes up I do have something to post.

I guess I need to find a recipe that doesn't require much, so I can put something up.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two for Tuesday...TWD

Last week, if you visited my blog, you would know I chose not to do TWD due to an overload of sweets already in my house. Well, since there was no excess of sweets this week I decided to backtrack with the cake and also make this week's selection.

I am glad I did backtrack because this cake was easy and very tasty. There was extra toasted ground almonds in my cupboard and I mixed them with the flour to stir in. Let's just say this was an almondy treat. Good job Dorie!

This week's TWD was chosen by Melissa of Love At First Bite and her pick was Sweet Cream Biscuits. It's really hard for me to turn down baking a biscuit and this was no exception. These biscuits were nothing like ones made with sticks of butter, in that they were completely chewy and soft. Usually butter biscuits have a crisper outside with a soft, flaky inside(if made These also had a little sweetness, due to the addition of sugar, hence the name. If you have cream in the house that you want to use up, these are definitely a go to recipe. YUMMY!

Thanks to Nancy and Melissa for choosing such wonderful and EASY recipes. So easy I was able to do both at pretty much the same time.

You can visit their pages for the recipes or just purchase Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Daring Cook's Brunswick Stew

Blog Checking Lines- The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Brunswick Stew

I had heard of Brunswick Stew, but never knew what it consisted of, so when the challenge presented itself I was all for it. Traditionally this dish is made with game meat, but it can be made with chicken, turkey, or pork. I would guess that because people used to cook in season, they only used what they had killed and grown during that time of the year.

For my stew I used chicken thighs and country style pork ribs. The vegetables I used were carrots, celery, onions, and frozen corn and peas. I really didn't want to buy things just because it was in the recipe. Luckily for me, the only ingredient I had to purchase were the ribs.

This stew is so tasty that the flavor jumps out the bowl and smacks you in the tastebuds. I did the full recipe and shared some with a neighbor who hadn't heard of it before. Let's just say...the bowl didn't stay full for long.

I chose the long version recipe, with a few adaptions, so that will be the recipe I post. Thanks Wolf for such a wonderful choice!

And now for the recipe....

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Equipment needed-Large stock pot, at least 10-12qt OR Dutch Oven , or smaller if you halve the recipe used
Cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
Large bowl
Large wooden spoon for stirring

Serves about 12

1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste

1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

6 You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.

Monday, April 12, 2010

TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake

This cake is on my list of cakes to bake, buuuuut I will have to put it on hold right now. I have so many sweets in my house you would think it was a bakery of some sort. There were extra yolks in my fridge that I used to make banana nut gelato with, this is in addition to the drumsticks for my kids that were already in the freezer. I had to make cake for a tasting which left me with enough to make a 6 and 9inch 2-tiered cake. We are still eating that cake even though I gave out plenty to neighbors. Needless to say, right now was not the time to add more sweets.

This week's TWD was chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs, so for the recipe go to her page and see how she fared. While you're at it, check the TWD blogroll to see how other TWDers did with this week's pick.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TWD: Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake

This week's TWD was chosen by Erin of When in Doubt...Leave it at 350. This recipe had me at chocolate. It has ground walnuts, chocolate, coffee,'s perfect. It was easy to put together and the flavor was wonderful.

Even though the recipe calls for ground walnuts, I'm sure you could use whatever nuts you want. I think the oilyness of the walnuts adds to the butter and makes a great cake, even if it sits for a few days.
I made this cake last week and it only lasted a few days. I would love to try it as a layer cake to see how it comes out. What does that mean? It means it is another keeper from Dorie's book.

Check out the TWD Blogroll to see what other TWDers have done and go to Erin's page to find the recipe and see what she's done. You could also just get Baking: From My Home to Yours and bake many more recipes from Dorie.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TWD: Dulce de Leche

This weeks TWD was chosen by Jodie of Beansy Loves Cake. She chose Dorie's Dulce De Leche Duos on page 161 of her Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook.

Last year, I learned how to make my own dulce de leche by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk (which I always have in the cabinet). I had done two cans and had one of those cans left over. I had been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it, so when this recipe was chosen this month I knew that this was one of my weeks I would be baking. This recipe, like a lot of Dorie's recipes, was easy to put together. I scooped my cookies with a small scoop(apprx. 2 tsp. I think) and I got 72-74 cookies.

I put melted bittersweet chocolate on half of the cookies and made a buttercream with the rest of the dulce de leche to put on the chocolate after it hardened(I just stuck them in the fridge to speed up the process). I sandwiched the cookies with the plain cookie and we were good to go. These cookies were soft and chewy with a little crunch from the chocolate. Surprisingly enough the cookies were not extremely sweet like I though they would be since it had sugar plus dulce de leche. Then again, maybe us sweet tooth people don't realize sweetness because we eat so much sugar that we wouldn't know it until the cavity or diabetes comes.

I wish I had measured my buttercream ingredients to give you a more accurate recipe, but I didn't. I know that it included 1 stick of room temperature butter, the rest of the can of dulce de leche, a little shortening(to help it be able to stay at room temp w/o melting), enough powdered sugar to the consistency you want your buttercream to be, a little milk and some vanilla extract. If you know your cookies won't be sitting for long you can omit the shortening and add a little more butter. With the shortening, this buttercream stays like the oreo cream.

Run, don't walk to your kitchen and make these cookies, because they are just that good. Check out Jodie's site for the recipe, or just buy Dorie's cookbook so you will be able to bake some of her other great recipes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Anniversary cake

This cake is covered with MMF with gumpaste flowers around the bottom and RI flowers on top. I have had crimpers for over a year and finally decided to use them. I also had a stencil that I bought 2 years ago at the Mid Atlantic cake show in Wesminister that I finally opened up and used.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome to the JUNGLE

I had leftover fondant from the Roses Cake that I decided to do a baby shower cake. I wanted to get some practice with modelling characters and this would be the perfect cake for it. As you can see I definitely need lots of practice, but I can say the elephants are almost there.

Thanks for looking and if you have any suggestions or modelling tips please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roses and poker

Oh, and mint chocolate ice cream too.