Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Lane Layman's Terms, "The Cake from Hell..."

I am coming in just under the wire
with my Lane Cake
for this year's family Bake Off.
I have been waiting for most of
the summer to make it
to serve to my knitting group
next time we met at my house.
Today was the day.

This cake was selected by my
sister in law, Pat...
with whom I have a bone to pick...
(Just kidding, Pat.)

This is a labor intensive cake to make.
There are four "from scratch" layers, 
and a cooked filling consisting of
dried peaches, coconut, toasted pecans and bourbon.
I did both of those tasks on Monday.
A cooked meringue frosting is the final step.
I did some reading on meringue frosting
and the general consensus is
that it's better served the day it is made.
Again, today was the day.

Never having made a meringue frosting before,
I followed the recipe to the letter.
You whisk together egg whites and sugar,
add some Karo Syrup and for my cake,
peach schnapps.
Then in a bowl over a pan 
of boiling water,
you beat with an electric mixer
(which I borrowed from my friend Anne)
 until "stiff glossy peaks form."
I never got to "glossy" but
there were stiff peaks.
Fearing I would burn the motor out
on Anne's mixer,
I decided to go ahead and frost.
You see above what it looked like.
For some reason it went "grainy" on me,
 and there wasn't enough to even 
cover the entire cake.
And it got rock hard as soon 
as it was on the cake.

I made a  quick consult with 
sister Nancy in Fayetteville
and brother Rick in Germany via 
What's App.
Nancy: "Scape it off and
make some butter cream."
Rick:  "Cut a big circle from the middle."

I did a combination of both their recommendations.

Here's my cake scraped and shaved.

Then, I made a quick trip to the 
grocery store.
At this point I was not about
to spend any more time 
making frosting for this cake!

I even bought some cookies,
just in case we couldn't eat the cake.

The Cake from Hell
in all its canned, butter cream glory.

My knitting group is composed of
dear friends.
We have been knitting together 
almost forever.
At any rate, they are very supportive
and ate the cake.
My friend Katherine, 
who is from South Alabama,
where this cake originated,
was even nice enough to say it
 "tasted the way it was supposed to taste."
(She KNOWS because her mother
used to make it every year at holiday time.)

I LOVE my friends.
(Btw, the cookies were not touched.)

Here is the link for the recipe I used.
In my opinion, the flavor was okay,
but the cake was quite crumbly.
This is an old fashioned cake
and I think our tastes have changed.
Or perhaps my cooking skills
have become a bit rusty... several other things.
Anyhoo...bon apetit!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Violet Love

I have grown violets most 
of my adult life.
My first violets
were from my Grandmother
many years ago.
I like to think that
perhaps some of the ones
I have today are
offspring's of those first ones from her.

Through the years
I have had good luck with violets
and they always bloomed beautifully
for me.
Then, I moved into my current house
a couple of years ago.
Evidently they were not happy with
the move.
Violets that had been outstanding
at my previous house,
suddenly decided they
were merely green houseplants.

For almost a year I did not have
a single blooming violet.

So I started giving them regular doses of 
a bloom booster
and I gave them more light.
Although my house is quite bright
they wanted a more direct light.

The window in my kitchen is western exposure
and in the dining room I have the morning light.
Between these two windows
I started to rotate all my violets regularly.

And guess what?
Last spring they started blooming
once again
and have not stopped since.
I do have the occasional pot 
with no blooms.
But after a few days in one of the
"violet" windows
they reward me beautifully.

Here are some other tips that work for me
to keep violets happy and healthy -

-good drainage is essential
-water from below
-let them dry out between watering
-they like to be root bound,
so keep their pots small.

Baby them a bit 
and they will reward you
with blooms
year around!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Summer Reads

I am not sure what else I will 
read this summer,
but I feel confident in saying,
THIS one is my 
favorite of the summer.  

This is a multi generational family saga,
ranging from the 1930s to present time.
The author moves from time period
to time period often and with
great effect.
The story is about secrets,
American privilege, entitlement 
and prejudice.
I love the author's elegant writing style.
The themes of privilege and prejudice
struck a cord with me in light of
our own current political atmosphere
right now.

Have you given much thought about 
racial prejudice in other cultures?
This book struck a strong note
of how prevalent it is elsewhere,
namely in South Korea.
This book follows 
four generations of 
a Korean family living in Japan
after Korea was annexed by Japan
in the latter half of the 20th Century.
The theme of the family's
 constant and never-ending 
situation as despised "outsiders"
also caused me to 
consider the situation of many
people in America today.

This book is  the epitome of  a
summer, beach read.
Not a lot of substance,
kind of like watching a movie
on the Hallmark Channel.
(Remember when Hallmark movies
were thought provoking, well done,
REAL movies???  I digress....)

This is a story about divorce, its effects,
a tragic teenage accident and growth.
So so.
I do not purposely search out and read 
"Christian" fiction,
and that theme seemed a little forced to me.

This was an interesting
story about second chances.
It deals with some ugly
people and situations.
The main character
is complex,
but I found the story
a little predictable.

I just finished this one yesterday,
just in time before seeing the movie
when it's released next week.

This is a dog story, what's not to like?
It is told from the perspective of
and in the voice of Enzo, 
whose owner has more hardships
to deal with than anyone should ever have.
That being said,
Enzo is such a wonderful 
representation of all dogs,
the story is good.
His perception of life
is so right and true, 
you cannot help but love this dog.
Make sure you have some hankies handy.
You will need them.

How do I choose what to read?
I am an audio "reader"
so the first criteria is that 
a book be available in that form
from my library.
After that, I keep an eye out 
for recommendations from
friends on social media
and on most Sundays
I go through the paper's list
of new releases.
If it sounds interesting,
I add it to my queue.

What are you reading this summer?
I'm always open for suggestions!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Home Improvement Project - DONE!

When I moved into my cape cod
two years ago,
my plan was 
"one big home improvement project per year."
This year's is all finished!

This is how the house looked "before."
(Notice the screened porch, 
which was last year's project.)

This year's plan 
was for a reworking of the front outside entry,
which included:
***A new front door,
(accomplished  earlier this year.)
***Reshaping the covering over the porch.
***Removal of the two side lights 
and replacing them with a new hanging one.
***Removal of the old wooden railing,
(one good push and it would have been gone anyhow)
and replacement with a new one. 

The work actually got started during a time
in May when I had to be away for a while.

 Unexpected problems should always
be expected when dealing
with an old house, right??? 
The wood underneath the 
original brick floor was rotten.
So, that floor was removed and replaced.

Next came the new covering.
The plan was for it to mimic the
two upstairs' dormers.

Here is the view of the underside,
with its newly installed bead board,
all ready for the light to be installed.

Note all the old floor bricks.

The painting started...

...and completed,
as well as the new pendant light 
in place.
The end is in sight!

While the heavy lifting was being done,
I was doing some fun things,
such as looking for a new doorbell.
I found this one on Etsy at 

There was a bit of a challenge with it,
since my doorbell was electronic and
the cover I choose was for a wired one.
I had just had the doorbell installed when 
I renovated the house two years ago,
so really did not want to replace it.
Luckily, I have a very creative builder named Jim.
He was able to cut an opening in the facing
to house the workings of the bell.
The cover fit over my original button perfectly!

New mailbox!

The metal railing was installed as the final step.

The project was finished in June.

I found the decal on Etsy at

...and even found a cute one for the back door!

All finished
and I love the final results!

Now my mind is abuzz 
thinking about next year's project...

Monday, June 24, 2019

Another Lane Cake!

My sister Nancy has submitted her
Lane Cake 
entry for this year's bake off.
She wrote such a first-rate post
for her own blog,
I have lifted her pictures and text
to share with you.
Consider Nancy our "guest contributor" today!

"Yes, it's that time of year again. 
 The annual
 Davidson Family
Cake Bake Off."

"This year my sister in law, Pat picked the cake, a deep south
tradition, The Lane Cake."

"Lane Cake was new to me so I went to Google.
When I read it was mentioned in Harper Lee's
"To Kill A Mockingbird",
well, that's all I needed to be

favorite books and defiantly my favorite movie."

"Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded 
with shiny it made me tight"
Scout Finch."

"There are many versions the
 Alabama State Cake,
I went with a traditional version.
When I printed off my recipe and found it was
four pages long,
I knew I was in trouble.
My recipe states this cake gets better the longer
it's stored in the frig, hence the shiny.
I used bourbon."

"Day one was about baking the cakes.
Mine called for three layers.
It is a sponge cake and called for eight egg whites."

"Day two made the filling.  
Eight egg yokes, sugar, raisins, nuts, flavoring, coconut,
and of course the spirits,
only a half cup."

"Quite tasty, but even with just half a cup...
pretty strong."

"Now into the refrigerator to do its thing
for at least two days and up to two weeks.
After that the frosting."

"Day four...I couldn't wait any longer.
Today I made the boiled frosting, something
I've never done before."

"I've also never used a candy thermometer
in fact I had to borrow this one from Susan.
This cake has been fun to make, I've had to step up 
and learn some new skills.
I'm not so sure about this boiled frosting...not sure how it 
should look or what the correct thickness is but
it is what it is."

"The Lane Cake.
You can find this recipe here.

Father's Day is this Sunday and that's when I'll cut this beauty.
I'll let you know what everyone thinks."

Thanks Nancy!
Now an update.
Yes, the cake was cut on
Father's Day
and I happen to be visiting
so I got to enjoy the cake too.

The cake had "seasoned" in the
refrigerator for a few days
before cutting 
and we were
surprised to discover
the boiled icing had ...
maybe waited longer 
than it wanted.
When Nancy took it out of the refrigerator
she discovered the icing had begun
to "drip" down the sides of the cake.
Nothing much to do except
scape off the excess icing,
which gave the cake an interesting
new look!

It certainly did not detract from the taste of the cake.
Nancy's assessment was that
the cake was too dense and a bit dry,
but "tasted okay."
She had never done many of the processes
used to make the cake so did not know
exactly what to expect for its
look, consistency and how it should taste.
And although it was fun,
she probably will not make the cake again. 

Have you ever made a Lane Cake?
If so, I would love to hear about it
and share some pictures!

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