Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Berry Cake

I have quite a bit to say these days, yet my visits here have not affirmed the sharing of my days and thoughts, but isn't summer grand? I have taken note though that food seems to be at the top of what I talk about here lately.

The season of blueberry picking has arrived just in time for the approaching July weekend. I knew I was destined to bake something with them, and a recipe in this month's Bon Appetit further inspired me.  Also, the sighting of this recipe last week in my blog reading. (You ladies do know I read your blogs?)


I used blueberries, but I plan to make one with blackberries soon. But it is equally delicious with the blueberries and since my husband has a certain prejudice against blackberries due to the seeds, his preferences highly influence me.

  

My best suggestion for you today is to head to the blueberry bushes, or your local market, and make one of these cakes.  I do not think you will regret it.

 I feel as if I can give the recipe I used because I did make a few changes to their original recipe and maybe you do not have a lovely daughter-in-law like Claire to give you a subscription to this magazine for Christmas, and you might just have some berries right now screaming to be made into a delicious  summertime  berry dessert.

 Berry Buttermilk Cake

1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened at room temperature
2 1/3 cups flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups fresh berries, at least until bottom of pan is covered
1 cup sugar, more if desired
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a springform pan, line the pan's bottom with parchment paper, butter and lightly flour.
Layer berries on the bottom and toss with 1/4 cup sugar (optional depending on your sugar taste buds, but I did for this cake)
Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition Beat in the flavorings. Then add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in thirds beginning with the flour and ending with the flour, beating only until incoporated. Pour the batter over the berries.

Bake until lightly brown about 1 hour, check for doneness.
You can dust the cake with powderd sugar before serving.

Enjoy outside on the patio, or under a shade tree, or by the pool...you do not even need a fork or plate.





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

fresh herb storage


Most of my herb garden serendipitiously lays just outside my kitchen steps making it convenient for me to grab my kitchen shears, step outside and snip whatever herbs are needed when cooking.

 Throughout the day I will drink glass upon glass of water. I love to add a few fresh mint leaves and having fresh mint readily available on the counter is a time saver. The mint will last for several days in a glass of water but I am constantly refreshing my supply.

 Like all herbs, basil has its own unique stance in summertime foods. If you need to cut your basil back but you are not planning on using it right that moment, do not store it in the refrigerator. Instead place the fresh cut leaves in a glass of water and cover with a baggie, allowing it to rest on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight. The water in the glass should be changed daily. Your basil will stay fresh and green for more than a week when stored in this way.  You might even have the added benefit of having your basil root if left long enough!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

she kneads the dough

Lately the girls and I have rediscovered the art of making our own pizzas. No more salty pizza toppings filled with nitrates and preservatives for us, we have aspired on to higher and healthier pizzas of thin homemade crusts with the addition of natural toppings from where the tossing on of this and the placing of that makes for a delicious meal.




Due to Charlotte's discriminating taste buds half of the pizza absolutely must be cheese and pepperoni only, while Rose and I have discovered a most satisfying combination: olives, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar. The basil and vinegar are added to the hot pizza after it is removed from the oven.

I have plans to take my homemade pizza making frenzy to the grill very soon; fresh ingredients at my fingertips and a charcoal grill at my disposal, seems like the reasonable thing to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

two weddings and...


This past weekend we attended the weddings of two of our good friends' sons. You can not even begin to imagine my extreme relief when it so happened that one wedding was held on Saturday afternoon while the other one was on Sunday evening. I know I would never have been able to make a decision of which wedding to attend if both would have chosen the same time to get married because both sets of parents are very special and both grooms are equally important to us too. I have prayed countless prayers for these young men over the years and to see the culmination of at least one of those prayers was priceless.

But it made for a very busy kind of weekend with Saturday's chores, grocery shopping, cooking, church,  and Fathers Day...all within forty-eight hours!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

fermenting raw vegetables

Last Saturday I attended a workshop on learning how to prepare raw vegetables for fermentation. I must say my curiosity was kindled when I first heard about the process of preparing raw vegetables with the intention of having them ferment.This is something I had never tried before, but now I am learning all about the truly amazing health benefits of fermented vegetables. This morning I met at Tanya's yellow farmhouse and we began with the chopping and shredding of a variety of organic vegetables. Two necessary ingredients, the bacterial cultures and a jar of probiotics, had been purchased at the workshop.









A simple lunch of baked potatoes topped with butter, cheese and chives was served under the maple tree in the backyard.



 We were inexperienced enough to think we would have two batches done by lunchtime, however, it easily turned into a full day's work! But as Tanya helped me carry my portion of the fruits of our labor to the car, we agreed we were tired but feeling extremely good about our shared efforts.




 Oh, and while we were in the kitchen, Charlotte was busy making a fairy dwelling under a pecan tree with Tanya's older daughter.

 Now that evening has fallen and the lightening bugs are flittering here and there I am thinking today certainly was a day drunk with summer and its magic.




Sunday, June 12, 2011

while I was away from here...

 I took a trip away with my husband.

We took it literally.


A beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains, if not a full day at least we squeaked in a good afternoon's worth here.


 As we drove down the graveled path," Oh, give me my camera." It was serene, green and picture perfect

 with the sight of the grapevines stretching here and yonder.


 The charming way in which the owner has filled the nooks and crannies is creative and fun. Welcoming you to come sit a spell, and if you are so inclined you can bird watch.




















We dragged ourselves away. There were still more sights to see and things to enjoy on our weekend away.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

in the merry month of May

At one time I toyed with the idea of naming my second daughter Mae, with an e.  After all it only has three letters and one syllable and I have strong inclinations toward preferring such names. Instead she was given her name by rites of family consensus. May just happened to be the month I gave birth to both of my daughters, seven years apart.

Since Charlotte shared her birthday last year with another very important event,  I felt as if this year a birthday party with friends was due her. So as promised nine little ladies showed up wearing their summer dresses on a Wednesday afternoon to attend a tea party with all the trimmings in celebration of Charlotte's eighth birthday.


 The entire day beforehand was spent baking and preparing such treats as cucumber sandwiches, ham roll-ups, peanut butter and jelly heart-shaped sandwiches, vanilla cupcakes,

  
lavender cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar,



 and strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.


The morning of the party, watermelon balls were scooped, cream scones were baked and then all goodies were arranged on the dining room buffet.


Pots of tea were served in china teacups.

   
And of course there were presents and giggles too.

 After genteel civility had reached its limit, the nine young ladies scampered outside to the back yard to play in the playhouse.  While in the dining room I sat down and had a cup of tea with a dear friend of mine. 

november as it looks now

"After the leaves come down, the countryside has an open look. New vistas appear, hills unseen when summer's wealth of green is spr...