Jarred Cakes

Jarred cakes and…..a successful picture!  My computer hell is ongoing but I did get back my photo capacity with purchasing Microsoft Office.  Lion hid my old one because it was older so this restored it.  As usual I have waaaay too much capacity now with all these cute, little colors and signs on my desktop.  I imagine I’ll figure it out and probably use some of it if I ever take the time to explore. 

As I mentioned yesterday; this picture is the one of the cakes baked in glass jars (minus the cobbler part).  I can see great potential for these.  Some cool jars with ribbons or flowers attached INSTEAD of cupcakes for weddings, showers or whatever.  I’d prefer to see food in glass any day.  And, the idea of using all egg whites instead of whole egg appeals to me – they seem much lighter.

We are off to meet some friends, in a cove of a island off of Stonington, Maine for dinner on board tomorrow night.  How cool is that?  We can say, “hey, see you at Mclatherlys Island around 5 Saturday night”.  We’ll both anchor our boats, hike around the island for a bit then share a dinner in the cockpit.  I’m excited.  We’re all busy doing our thing and don’t seem to see our old friends that often.  These friends, Max & Lavana Sholtz, we’ve known for 35 years, old sailors.

I’ll have pictures & stories on Monday.

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Lion

Uh oh, big trouble in River City.  I downloaded Lion yesterday for my mac and have lost Microsoft Word which is connected to how I download my pictures.  Oy Vey, such a mess.  I just don’t get this stuff.  Now I’m on the hunt for a geek to come over and dump the whole mess.  So stressful.

I may be sparing you at this point.  I did make those cobblers yesterday – I am totally obsessed now and I do think I have it, perfect, final experiment.

Wish I could show you the pictures.

What I did was make a blueberry cobbler, simple, sugar, water, cornstarch, blueberries.

Didn’t have any eggs (remember yesterday was my not going to the store day) so I found a cake in a box from King Arthur I wanted to experiment with.  It called for 4 eggs, no eggs, no whole eggs but I did find egg whites in the fridge.  So, I made the box stuff with ¾ C. just whites, easy, went together fast, folded in some fresh raspberries from our garden. 

PERFECT.  The cakes came out light, very light.  The separation from the blueberries & raspberries was beautiful.  Sometimes when you have those two fruits together you just don’t get the flavor crisp enough as each.  So, with the blues on the bottom and the raspberries in the cake on top, perfect.  I even tried cooking the cake, just as itself (no cobbler) in some jars to see how that worked.  Great.  I had some fancy odd shaped jars.  They looked really cool, nice presentation. 

The bit I liked was the cake came out really white with a nice browned top on it.

Really, I promise I’m done trying to get that one just right.  Please make these you will love them.

And, I’ll get the darn computer back to normal when I can find someone to fix my mess.

And, Taj Mahal…..well, not my idea of a great, great time.  Zillions of people.  To me tiresome “growling about sex"  the whole time he was singing.  First song, cute, second, etc. got a little bit old.  Even Paul was ready to leave after 10 minutes.  He saw Shawn Colvin the week earlier and Greg Brown – loved those shows.

It is pretty fabulous sitting in a park along the river listening to music having a picnic.  I wasn’t able to get a photo but there was a huge tanker there off loading windmill blades, hundreds of them.  Absolutely beautiful.  I couldn’t figure out what they were at first – stacked up with sleeves covering a few at a time.  It must have been a sight seeing them out on the ocean.  Long white blades with a red tip!  I understand they are heading to Berlin, New Hampshire.  Yea NH.

Picnic Recipes

We are off to see Taj Mahal tonight so I’m working on picnic food.  Having an aversion to going to the store on a summer day in our touristy town I have to work with what is in the fridge.  Ah, leftover chicken sausages….fresh assorted greens…..eggs & cheese = Quiche!

And by making it at 7 a.m. it will be cold and manageable by this evening…nothing goopy.

Sauteed the greens in some garlic & onions…added some stock for moisture while cooking.  Chopped up the already cooked pesto sausage & Italian sausage.  I love chicken sausage, not sure I could eat the other anymore.

The cheese I had on hand was provolone from Marcuci’s and Parmesan, that’s lemon pepper crushed on top.  Ready to go in the oven.

400 degrees, one hour.  I love browned cheese same as I love blackened marshmallows.

I made a new coleslaw the other night.  My friend Viv sent me the ingredient list.  I altered it a bit to match what I had on hand:

Pomegranate Yogurt

Banana Vinegar

lemon juice

small dried Maine Blueberries

Sliced Almonds – should be roasted for depth of flavor

cabbage stuff

Delicious

Wild and crazy fabric on our porch chairs!  The picture also has stuffed peppers in it – just cheese & brown rice in a roasted red pepper.  I love making this rice:  12 C. boiling water, 1 Cup brown rice, some salt.  Boil for ½ hr. strain, put the rice back in the pot for 15 minutes, fluff, add lemon olive oil & s&p.   Perfecto…I make it in the morning then figure out what I’ll do with it later.  Sometimes I make rice cakes…put some rice in a bowl, add chopped herbs, Parmesan & an egg.  Mold into balls, refrigerate, dust with bread crumbs or panko and lightly saute.

These are some things I cooked with – these greens are just the best and the vinegar is what I used in the coleslaw.

Yesterday afternoon I picked some of our raspberries (gee, I have never seen so many – I cannot keep up with them).  I also went blueberry picking with Viv for an hour or so.  Today I suppose I’ll make some more jarred cobblers to go with our picnic tonight.  I only have egg whites so I’ll need to be creative coming up with a cake other than Angel Food to go on top.  I also picked some cucumbers that were hiding (so many weeds out there).  The basic sour cream although I will use yogurt instead, dill, garlic, s&p.  uh oh, something goopy but we’ll be using a spoon for the cobblers anyway.

In the morning I was delivering water to the Gundalow guys…just more progress.  This boat is so heavy.

And, lastly, one of my Memory Flowers.  Queen Anne’s Lace.  My mother used to cut these and have vases of them and in each one different food coloring in the water.  The plant absorbs the color, pale, but definitely a color.  Weird, but a nice memory for me.  A few years ago a woman I know here in town showed me to press the flower in the summer and by Christmas they are flat/dry and pale beige.  You then lay them on the boughs of your Christmas tree and they look like snow stars.  Very cool thing.  I’ve never seen them except when I do them and everyone who comes by just loves it.  Now is the time – just remember which book you’ve pressed them in because I did not and ended up with no flowers the first year because I forgot!

Raspberry Upside Down Cake

I believe I have posted this before but my recent family guests have suggested I definitely post it again.

I think it is the quickest cake.  I put it together as I was making coffee and an hour later we had cooled down cake.  Not bad.  And, since we have such a plethora of raspberries I went wild with them.

So, get out a cast iron skillet and a bowl & whisk.

In the skillet melt:

½ stick unsalted butter until the foam subsides, add 1 C. brown sugar, stir once, let cook undisturbed for 3 minutes, quickly pull off the heat and add your fruit to the top, no stirring!

In the meantime place in your bowl:

1 stick melted unsalted butter

2/3 C. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 fresh eggs

¾ C. buttermilk or regular milk with some vinegar in it

Whisk well, add:

1.5 C. flour

1.5 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

Pour batter on top of fruit and bake in oven at 350 for ½ to ¾ hour.  I think it’s done in ½ hour but am not sure as I never check the clock.  Put a toothpick in the top, if it’s dry it’s done.

Amazing cake.  Because the butter is “browned” it’s a richer taste.  It tastes better even days later if you have any left.  I like to refrigerate it and eat it with coffee the next morning….really early.  I don’t know –  it just seems special then.

We went up North to check on our boat for an overnight.  It was 10 degrees cooler up there which is not saying much but a pleasant relief.  85 instead of 95 at night.  We have a hatch over our bunk with a fab view of the stars and usually an amazing buffeting breeze.  Pretty dandy!  This is a picture of our neighbor.  I love this little boat.  We have yet to see anyone on any boat though.  Sometimes we can hear voices at night but it is the quietest harbor.  We have noticed the really big boats, Concordia’s, etc. are not there anymore.  Where did they go?  We drove up the road to Brooklin to see a building I would just love to have as a cafe…it’s an old Grange Hall.  I keep checking on it just in case someone buys our place here.  Alas, that is where all the big boats are – they’ve moved up to Joel White’s yard (and water).  Something is going on….hummmm.

In the meantime I love the quiet.  This cove has tons of seals in that come visit.  It’s nice.

While there we always visit this bookshop:

This is the Pushcart Press.  This guy, Bill Henderson, has the most amazing books crammed in this shop.  Most people have never heard of him but, I have to say, you need to check this out.  He publishes among many others this particular book each year which is “Best of the Presses” everyone is a well known author.  It is such a treat.  We keep the best of’s on the boat as they are short stories and good for a quick read.  I bought J.M.G. LeClezio’s Desert last week.  OMG, it’s fab.  All about the Desert tribes in Africa.  This guy won the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Descriptive….it’s  mesmerizing the way he describes the colors and heat.  I read and read and it makes me drowsy from the heat.  A beautiful, outstanding book!  Yesterday I bought Small Misty Mountain; The Awanadjo Almanack by Rob McCall.  Referred to as: Nature’s Year in a Downeast Village.  Another great book.  We listen to this man on NPR all the time.  Wow.  An exciting find!  He’s from Blue Hill which is just where our boat is.  What a place.  And, if we ever sell this place that will be our new home.

Another shot of just how small this bookshop is:

We drove home late yesterday trying to get to the Hamilton House for the music in the garden series…4 p.m. We wanted to see Cormac McCarthy sing – a local folksinger, not sure they are called that anymore.  Anyhow, we’ve known him forever!  It was great but wicked bittersweet as on the ride home my friend Patti called to say Billy Morrissey, another local who I have known since he was perhaps 17 or so and is best friends with Cormac passed away this week-end.  Bummer, bummer, bummer.  Talented person.  The sadness was just too much so it was kind of hard to enjoy the music yesterday.  Poor Cormac had such troubles staying focused but didn’t tell anyone what the problem was.  The audience must have thought he was terrible.  Totally forgot songs half way through, etc.  Tough.

Another day, another beautiful day, moving along…….I need to cook something new, fresh, exciting and summery.  I’m looking and thinking………

99 degrees at 8 p.m……….

I recommend one of these.  Worth every penny and if you buy one in October, cheaper yet!

Sunflowers off to the right – half grown.  There are about 4 or five rows of them, should be stunning when they bloom.  The bee situation is amazing here as is.  We have the swarm back (where did they go?). We have tons of Bee Balm with beautiful red flowers – they love that along with the hummingbirds.  They are chowing down on the raspberries and two of the little buggers bit me at the same time while I was sitting on the pool deck – I guess I was too near their nice big water bath.

Finally, Some Fabric Interests!

 I am happily playing in my ROOM.  It’s the one with the air conditioner, funny how that works.  We have a heat index of 105 today, friggin hot is all I can say.  I went down to the basement to cut up cardboard boxes for recycling tomorrow and when I reemerged I felt as though someone had punched me in the chest.  They even said on the radio this morning – no exercise today and if you have to run, just walk slowly instead.  No problem – I instead went food shopping….air cond. car, air cond. store. 

Besides the cool food I normally buy at TJ’s I went to Marcuci’s and went BULK with the olives we love.

I like to say I use these catering but mostly we eat them.  My next trip may have to be Sicily.  My traveling bud’s family originated there, moved to Ireland where the next half started up.  Half Italian/half Irish….tough stuff.

I feel sooooo guilty about this next picture.  Paul needed a fast birthday gift for a woman he works for and since I hate to buy “stuff” I groveled around in my fabric stash and came up with this.  It was originally bought with the intention of making Ruth a skirt – she chose the fabric.  But, this was the correct texture and probably the right pattern for this particular person.  I like to make mitered corners so it’s a nice gift, I think.  To make a long story short, Mr. conscientious came home and decided we were not going to the party.  I now have napkins, no skirt.  Ruth & Matt are planning on moving into our apartment over the barn within the next two weeks….house warming??  I’m hoping they are acceptable as napkins instead of a skirt.

I should have showed how those mitered corners look.  It really makes a difference and gives it a polished look.  I think they appeal to that nit picky part of my personality.  I can be such a slob but then again I always make mitered corners. Dork.

The countdown to a baby shower is on so I got a warp on the loom for a blanket.  Here it is in stages, winding, braiding then putting it on the loom.  Next up, treading & weaving.  I’ll show those as they happen.

This warp is rayon chenille.  When it’s woven and washed the colors will blend and you won’t see the change from one to the other.  It will feel like butter.  I love the texture of this once completed.  Again, my favorite colors!

Oh, I should put this in.  I finished a sweater I was making with a few hundred others on an Internet group.  We all started the same sweater May 1st. and kept in touch with each other through this site, Ravelry.  It was fun as everyone’s yarn was different, some (like me) altered the pattern, etc.  Of course there were the “winners” who were done first – I was in the “whose finishing last” group, just two weeks ago.  As I was knitting this sweater I visited my x-mother in law.  Complicated but it all works!  She and her husband, who are my oldest sons grandparents are now 94 I believe or close.  They live in a elderly place about an hour from here.  And, now, they share the same room!!  They are happy together and so sweet.  What he doesn’t have, she does and vice versa.  I love to visit them as they just inspire me in so many ways and my simple taking the time to visit thrills them.  My heart hurts every time I leave though for obvious reasons.  Yesterday my x, Lindsay,  whom I am friends with, arrived not long after me.  You would have thought it was Christmas.  They were so happy to have us all together.  You know, whatever works, it’s all good.  I think we brought them some peace and closure yesterday.  Funny world.  But, as I started, the sweater I was knitting is exactly the same color blue as Grammy freese’s eyes so I completed it with her in mind.  It was exciting watching her put the sweater on, it fit beautifully and she was thrilled.  I looked at John as this was happening and you could not have seen a prouder man in life.  He had tears in his eyes looking at his beautiful wife with her new sweater.  I have to say; these are the people who guided me along with my talent.  I married their son when I was 23 and oh so not talented at pretty much anything.  But, they were.  She was a home economics teacher during the depression and he was a machine tool & die maker.  Talented, talented people.  They could do anything and make anything and they did.  She is the one who taught me to make a gift rather than buy one.  And, while with them we celebrated Christmas with ONE homemade gift to each other.  None of this nonsense of tons of store bought junk.  Mr. Freese made me, one Christmas, a loom – I had never even dreamed of weaving but he took the challenge on and lo and behold, I’m a weaver.  Amazing what people can do to influence your life just by providing an opportunity or opening your eyes to something new.  I will be sad when they are no longer here and I hope to hell they close their eyes together!

Notice Luna, the dog on the right.  She kept her eyes peeled on me the whole time….didn’t want to be left behind.  She’s such a baby!  They love her at the nursing home….love, love, love.  Everyone has to pet her and talk about various dogs they owned.  If you have a dog, and it’s a nice dog, take it to a nursing home occasionally the good it does is fabulous.

More California

Nothing like it.  This could be my favorite shot although I am partial to the one on the dashboard overlooking the Pacific.  I do like the flavor but it really is the color or colors, composition, whatever.

My friend Patti and I went to Napa & Sonoma our first day in “wine country”…this shot is taken from the Wine Train.

Notice the difference in the tourism sectors. They really gussy up the vineyards for the masses, Palm trees?  Hello, this is NoCal remember.  The next shot was taken in the Russian River Valley where there is just one long road which leads to Bohemian Highway (hardly a highway).  I liked this area much better…..waaaaay less people.  It was so quiet it had that buggy, sleepy sound to it, very still.  I wanted to pull over and take a nap in the grass.

This is an unusual blue plant with my girls posing….quite the posers.

Last night we picked yet more raspberries so I made some Raspberry Muffins w/fresh mint.  I used the Blueberry muffin recipe I’ve posted before but put 2 Cups of whole wheat in.  Funny, when you eat the berries off the vine you don’t taste any seeds but when you bake them in muffins there is quite a crunch (not what I want).  I wonder, the seeds must bake and become crisp, you think?

I’m pretty excited about having read this.  I was cruising through the Wall Street Journal, Wed. July 13th. and there was an article on Page One about Jello and the Art Studio. A bunch of posts back I put pictures in and talked about a new book I had gotten in Portland, all about sculpting jello’s etc. by Bompas and Parr.  It’s a big deal in the food world, now, starting with Jelly shooters.  Sounds gross and looks even grosser but that is usually the way now with all these over the top experiments.  But, there are serious competitions.  Michelle Palm has a blog called Jelly Shot Test Kitchen you could check out.  You may be able to find out something on CraftGossip. A design studio in New York is working on edible cups made of agar agar (seaweed based gelatin rather than animal based, i.e. thicker) to hold cocktails and then you eat the cup.  Kraft has gotten on the band wagon and is ramping up Jello Molds to deal with the “mold mania” that’s going on now, who would think?  But, that will be fun.  I love just plain old jello in the summer. 

In thinking about Agar-Agar.  I was reading a book I picked up at a yard sale the other day…The Salt Book, regarding lots of things New England based but specifically Sea Moss Pudding and the harvesting of.  Really interesting.  This book was published in 1974.  I was living in Vermont at the time.  Everyone bought this book – it was the “in” book at the time and most of us did those things; reduce maple syrup on our wood stoves for days on end, make our own stuff; bread, can produce and keep chickens for eggs, cheesemaking, barn raising.  Most of our friends lived in Communes.  That is probably where I got this passion for group dinners although instead of “pot luck” like it used to be, I now do all the cooking.  Hummm, wonder what I have to do to get back to the “pot luck” theme?  Young, hard workers!  We were so free and content with the simplicity of our lives.

Politically that time period was chaos.  Nixon was beating feet out of office.  The Viet Nam War was ending for us and we were beating feet out of there.  We were in line to adopt a child being air lifted out at the last minute. Jesse was born in January 1975 in Burlington, Vermont with the first midwife, first delivery for Vermont, Mary Lee Mantz at the Mary Fletcher Hospital.  Can you imagine, not being allowed a midwife to deliver?  The whole birthing room celebrated that night.  That’s turn of the century type stuff. Life was crazy.

A tiny book review of that era.  Ann Beattie has written just about the best book I have read in ages called Mrs. Nixon – it’s a writers perspective of just what Mrs. Nixon may have been thinking while certain occurrences were happening.  There is a ton (three years research) of little known facts and lots of history in this book.  Ann is a fiction writer and professor in Virginia (and happens to live up the road and hang out with me in the summers).  This book is funny, clever, extremely cynical and so well written.  She writes as a professor in that she teaches you why certain sentences work or why a fiction writer would approach from a certain angle, etc.  For any wanna be writer this would be a great “class” to read.  I read the galley and am not sure the book is actually out yet but keep your eyes peeled for this as I can’t say enough great things about it.