Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Update #2

For the second day of summer, the weather is a bit too cool and gloomy. The rain let up long enough for me to run outside for a garden update. The ankle deep grass in our backyard was covered in rain drops and the local finch family was curiously watching my movements from their home in the clothes line. If I stood still long enogh, Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal would even swoop in from the maple to say hello and grab some sunflower seeds from the feeder.



With the exception of my pepper plants (the rabbits ate them all, down to the ground!! gasp!), all of the plants in our garden are coming right along. The raspberries are a little behind due to the cool spring, but in a matter of days, or a week, we will be harvesting ripe, red berries from our bushes.


Located near the raspberries there is a trellis. Made from an old latter, this will be the suppor from which various plants will grow. One of my hopefuls are the morning glories. I envision their fuzzy vines reaching skyward, covering the trellis with leaf-green hearts, revealing their flowers with each sunrise.



The corn and sugar snap peas are coming along nicely, and the tomatos and basil are lush and leafy. Adorning the entire garden is a star I found at a local thrift shop last summer. This star hangs from the center of the trellis and I hope, someday, the morning glories and moon flowers will reach this center point.


Don't tell Scott, but with each shovelful of dirt, each planting of flowers, I fall more and more in love with our home and yard. As much as I hope and dream to move out to the country, the home we have created here, together, is really growing on me. We have put so much time into improvements and adding our own unique touches all around, things which have transformed a house into our home.


Now, time to make some banana nut muffins, deliver them about town, and make it home with enough time to spare to bust out some block prints. Wish me luck!


PS. If I woke up every morning feeling as content as I did this morning, I'd be a very, very happy momma! Maybe that had something to do with the fact that I didn't have crazy, early-morning, bedhead!?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hello "weekend"

It's hot. I'm tired. We're childless (for the evening). I'm making a drink!


Feel the same? Make my "Hello Weekend" Mojito. These are best when sipped with a loved one on a hot, sticky summer's night.

"Hello Weekend" Mojito
Makes 4 drinks. (Why make one when you can share with friends?)

Ingredients:

  • 4 high ball glasses
  • 4 tablespoon sugar
  • 20 mint sprigs, or spearmint, 8 roughly broken apart
  • Ice
  • 6 ounces light rum
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • 4 large strawberries, sliced
  • Club soda
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
Place 4-5 mint sprigs and 1 tablespoon sugar in each glass. Muddle to release oil from mint. Place ice in glasses and pour in approximately 1-2 ounces of rum (depending on desired strength). Divide lime juice and strawberries evenly between glasses. Top off each glass with club soda. Garnish each glass with a lime slice and straw.

Hope you enjoy your weekend, whenever it may be. It's 5 o'clock, somewhere, right?!
Cheers.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good Cake Gone Bad

I’m a firm believer in the idea that the fastest way to any man’s heart is through his stomach. As today is Father’s Day, I thought I would test that idea and bake something for Scott’s dad in lieu of a buying him a gift. Alan has a sweet tooth and I had the perfect recipe for the occasion; gesundheit kuchen.


Gesundheit kuchen is German for good health cake and happens to be one of the recipes I learned from my grandmother. It is a rich, dense cake with hints of lemon, reminiscent of a pound cake. The smell of the cake baking instantly takes me back twenty years to my grandmother’s kitchen, where we used to spend hours talking about and baking all sorts of treats. Since this cake was being baked for a special occasion, I decided to step my grandmother’s traditional recipe up a bit (or to be more accurate, I went over the top!). What resulted was a moist, golden brown cake drenched in chocolate ganache –AND– dropped, drooling jaws on both Scott and John when they saw the cake this morning (and were told they couldn’t eat it until this evening!). Oh, how I love it when they do that! It is a great affirmation that I am doing alright as a baker.

Below you should find a copy of my good cake gone “bad”. Happy Father’s Day!

Gesundheit kuchen (good health cake)
with chocolate ganache

 Cake ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, whipped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon or orange
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
 Ganache ingredients:

  •  9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  •  1 cup heavy cream
Kuchen Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12” fluted tube pan. In medium bowl, cream butter with sugar. In a large bowl combine creamed mixture with eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix until smooth. Sift together flour and baking powder (creating a dry mixture). Mix wet mixture alternately with dry mixture and milk creating a smooth, thick batter.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Bake one hour, or until cake is golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

Ganache Directions:

Place chocolate in medium mixing bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream until boiling. Pour milk over chocolate and mix until all chocolate is melted and a smooth consistency is reached. Drizzle ganache over cooled cake. Allow ganache to set before serving (this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on how thick the ganache is dispersed over the cake).

Slice, serve & enjoy!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Out and about

Well, it should go without saying that we've been busy lately! The weather has surpassed the spring blahs and reached the pleasant, mild weather of early summer, drawing us outdoors and away from the computer. We've been on many adventures lately, taking us all over southern Wisconsin, doing everything from mushroom hunting to swimming to antiquing.


Almost two weeks ago now, Scott and I got to escape for an evening. As a birthday present, a friend reserved a room for the two of us in the Fountain Prairie Bed & Breakfast. Our Garden Room was on the second floor of a turn of the century Victorian farm house. (something I would LOVE to own myself someday, with a possible bed and breakfast/hobby farm as my pass-times). I was in heaven! The two of us had a hard time not drooling over the pristine woodworking, the claw-footed tub, and the stunning view from the barn (which was even more enjoyable since we both had just been handed a chilled glass of white wine).


After a restful evening and a mouthwatering, two hour long breakfast filled with hunting stories and hot coffee, we headed to the antique mall in nearby Columbus. While driving there, and getting lost, we spotted one last mushroom to wrap up our hunting season. I don't know what this mass of foam was supposed to be, but being over 3 feet tall it was hard to miss (and I'm sure filled with asbestos).


The Columbus Antique mall was gigantic to say the least, and only having an hour to shop, we barely scratched the surface. We did end up leaving with a carbon steel cleaver and a cast iron pan for less then $10 total.


I've been on a thrifting kick since then and have been lucky enough to spend just a few dollars on a bunch of other new treasures. I found a $2 glass bottle boasting a pink and gold floral motif, that just happened to match a cup and saucer I already had. Also at that store I found a red wire 3-tier hanging basket for just $.60! This basket was hung between the living room and dinnette and, for the time being, will be housing sunglasses and seeds rather then fruits and vegetables.


Today was the ultimate day in our adventures. Bodie and I spent the whole day together. First thing after breakfast we loaded the cruiser trailer with a blanket and beverages and headed to the park just around the corner. We spent an hour swinging, reading and throwing wiffle balls up the tube slide. (And I must admit, I was drinking coffee ... I have to keep up with a 3-year-old somehow!)


When we played with all the park had to offer we hopped back on the bike and rode a half mile down the road to our neighborhood Antique Mall. Who knew this gem was just blocks from my house and didn't tell me?!? Bodie and I walked up and down and back around every nook and cranny of the place. It was filled with all types of classic goodies, and were really well priced for a Madison antique store. I found a darling, little vase (under 3" tall) and a glass shaker-top bottle that I plan to use for dusting flour while baking. I definitely plan on going back to this store (ASAP), hopefully with Scott in-tow and maybe with a little more then $3 in my pocket! 


Oh, one last thing to share. I found this sunny yellow candle sconce at another store last week. It's brightening up a spot on the living room wall (and adding another feminine touch to a rather masculine living room). Toodles!