Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Repreive from the Heat

We have been having some rain and a reprieve from the heat.  It hasn't been much help to the garden, though.  Tomatoes have stopped ripening and just hang on the vine.  At least the ones that escape the birds, voles and rabbits.  I guess water has been hard to come by for everything.

Last week I weeded the strawberries, crabgrass was taking over.  They rewarded me by setting blossoms and fruit.  Looks like we may get a dozen more berries.  The green beans are coming out today and the bed will be prepped for a new crop.  Maybe turnips.

The okra, which had been thriving in the dry heat is now slowing up and spending more time setting blossoms.  More to look forward to.

I have been baking - made an anniversary cake for my neighbor and a practice cake for my nephews wedding in October.
My neighbor and his wife grow roses and daylilies around their house.  This was their 56th anniversary.
This will become a multi-tier birch sweetheart tree with autumn leaves accenting it.  Not perfect but at least in the right direction.  These are both 6" cakes, which is a perfect size considering how dense and rich they are.  the garden cake was a devils food pound cake with a filling of chocolate fudge, iced in vanilla buttercream lightly scented with orange.  The birch log is vanilla bean sour cream pound cake with a sour cherry filling, vanilla buttercream.  Each cake will make 12 generous slices.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Very little thanks to my Garden

Tonight I made Ratatouille.  But I roasted it in the oven.  And I liked it even more than traditionally cooked.

        2 squash - zucchini and yellow is what I used, large dice
        1 Red Pepper, large dice
        1 Eggplant, large dice
        6 small Tomatoes, cored and quartered
        1 Onion, peeled, halved and sliced into quarters
        lots of olive oil
        All the garlic I had
        1 tsp salt
        grinds of pepper

        Preheat the oven to 350 F.
        I started with two stoneware pans.  In each I drizzled a good amount of olive oil.  First pan, squash, eggplant and red pepper, each in its own area.  Second pan, tomatoes and onions.  Smash lightly (crack?) but don't chop the garlic and distribute it between.  Drizzle more olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt.  Grind pepper liberally over the top.  Put in the oven.

       If you have a convection oven, use it.  We are going to remove moisture and get some color on everything.  How long?  Until it smells good then a little longer.
       Take the trays out, set them aside to cool.
       Remove the tomato skins if you want.  Scrape everything into a bowl.  Stir and eat.  I like a little Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.  Someone else likes a sprinkling of red wine vinegar.  Really good on pasta, the penne, not spaghetti.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tomatoes, tabasco peppers and cake

The drought continues and the birds, rabbits, voles and chipmunks have been using my tomatoes as a water source.  We have resorted to picking them as soon as they show the slightest sign of color and bringing them to the porch to ripen.

The critters are a little pickier with the peppers.  Green bell pepper-fair game, Cajun belle-second choice, jalapeƱo-hit and miss, tabasco-nary a bite.  Okra stands above the fray and is untouched by all but me.  Pickled two pints for immediate consumption.

Cakes.  I have been having a lot of fun making cakes.  I love to decorate cakes!

The one above is a banana cake with rum buttercream.
 And here we have White almond sour cream cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream.

together they look so cute!

Kitchen experiments

Edible glitter!  Who doesn't want to add some sparkle to your life.  Cake Central featured a small article about it
So I decided to try it.

Not everything you read on the internet is true.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So much has happened

1. Pipe burst
2. House flooded
3. Had to move to temporary housing
4. Pinched nerve cleaning and packing and moving
5. Return engagement with Orthopedic professional
6. New floors, drapes
7. Unpacking
8. Cleaning

Through it all I have tried to find time to practice my cake craft.  That is because the garden is craft (or a word similar).  Tomatoes are doing well but the entire world population of rabbits has been eating them as soon as they ripen, this after we finally discouraged the birds from eating them. The green beans have been all bush and no bean.  Lettuce - bitter.  No squash or cucumbers.  Even the okra, my mainstay, has been producing at a much slower rate.  The only prolific plant is the Tabasco pepper plant.

I did make blueberry jam from the 5 lbs of Michigan blueberries the store always sells in June.  They were not sweet enough to freeze whole but the jam is very nice, pectin free.

So here are the cakes.

 For my granddaughter's first brownie meeting.

Vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, copyright infringement.

For my Birthday - 4" wee tiny cake.  White almond cake, fresh strawberry and Italian buttercream filling, buttercream then fondant ombre ruffles.

Cardomom spice cake beehive, buttercream caramel frosting.

Dark dark dark chocolate 4" wee tiny cake.  Dark chocolate frosting in a petal design.  Milk chocolate dipped strawberries with a white chocolate drizzle.

Paid commission!! Half sheet, chocolate, peanut free, sports theme.  It has been pointed out to me that the football, though textured nicely to resemble leather has too many stitches.

For my niece.  6" white cake with apricot or raspberry filling.  Fondant overlays.

My Anniversary.  4" wee tiny cake with quilted fondant.
My sister's birthday.  3 layer 6" chocolate fudge cake, dark chocolate and milk chocolate frosting.  White chocolate molded roses, dark chocolate piped roses, dark chocolate beaded scrollwork on the sides.  This one also required structural stabilization because the height exceeded the width.
My grandson's Birthday.  A sour cherry Black Forest Cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream sides and edges. 

Italian Meringue Buttercream is the closest thing to whipped cream I have ever tasted.  It was flavored with vanilla bean so was flecked with the tiny little seeds of goodness.

that brings me up to date.