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!

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