Birthday Cakes

Well, my goodness it certainly took me all day to make those darn cakes….I was watching myself AGE…

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Birthday Cakes

Well, my goodness it certainly took me all day to make those darn cakes….I was watching myself AGE just getting them done.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely not.  First off…really time consuming.  The flavor was “greasy” in my opinion.  The white chocolate and egg yolks for the center “goo”,  just that, goo.  The ganache was fine and the white chocolate squiggle was fine.  I couldn’t pipe the interior in I had to cut a plug, pipe it in and then shorten the plug to lay the cap on flat.  Lot of work!  Tiresome.  And then, I didn’t like them; much too sweet.  The Chocolate & chocolate and egg yolks and all just made it inedible.  My husband loves them – oh, top it off the cake has coffee in it.  Geech.

cupcake holes


I think this may have been my messiest job yet.  Perhaps my heart wasn’t in it although I thought it was.  If I were to do it again – go with a decent box cake mix, pipe in one of those canned frostings, cover with a good ganache and buy one of those frosting pens for the squiggle.  Or just hope to hell Hostess comes back!

Last night there was some nice organic green cabbage lurking in the fridge…..thin sliced it, sautéed with a really crisp Macoun Apple.

cabbage saute

Really nice.  We had it with pasta & parmesan and sautéed first then baked chicken thighs…..crunching on celery while drinking wine while cooking gave me the full basic food groups.

My friend Heather got me hooked on watching The Palace, a TV show I get from Netflix – love it.  I lose Paul about 15 minutes into it but that’s o.k. cause then I get to watch many episodes (without criticism) a novel idea.

This morning while watering the house plants I decided to trim our tiny hydro kale plants….what do you do with just a little?  Put them in a saute pan, bunched together, lay down a slice of bread on top, turn over till the other side is browned and top with poached eggs.  Yummy.

poached on greens

It’s hard to see the greens in this shot but they get nice and crispy first.  I didn’t move them around at all, just put them together and when they started to brown added the bread for about a minute then flipped it over.  Wicked full.

o.k. now I’m stalling…..I have to go out for a walk but it looks so darn cold out there….I can do it, I can do it (perhaps).

Birthday Girl

Oh man, another one!  They just keep creeping up on me so I suppose it must happen to everyone else too.  Years ago I used to just wait, and wait and wait, so anxious for my birthday although I have no idea why it was never a big deal then.  So, now I make it a big deal for myself.  One of my activities today is to make my cake…..I’m making Hostess Cup Cakes.  I saw the recipe years ago and made them – fabulous and then as luck would have it, it was listed in the paper a week ago again.  I’m on it.  My sister saw this piece in the newspaper where she lives:  Interesting.

Wedding cakes have played a role in British marriage ceremonies since medieval times. They used to be made of wheat, a symbol of fertility. Stories suggest that they were thrown at brides, or broken up over their heads.

Tiered wedding cakes first became popular amongst royalty and nobility in the 1600s. To stop them from drying, they used to be stored in lard, which was scraped off when it was time for them to be eaten. Later, sugar was added to the lard to make it taste better and it was left on the cake.

Icing as we know it emerged in Victorian times. The whiter the cake, the richer the bride’s family was seen to be. This is because the finely refined sugar needed to make a lighter mixture was more expensive.

Yesterday I made chili with a Buffalo Chuck Roast – now Chuck roast out of buffalo has zero fat so I always blow it roasting it.  We end up with this tough, dry thing.  But, yesterday I cubed it, seared it with lots of olive oil,  then put it in the crock pot.  In the roasting pan I cubed three onions, 6 cloves of garlic, a Mario’s hot pepper, 1/4 Cup of Rancho Gordo Chili Powder, 2 Tbs. of RG dried Oregano, a bottle of dark beer (some Oktoberfest thing hanging around), 3 Cups of water.  Brought that to a boil then added it all to the meat on slow for 6 hours.  In the meantime I used the same sauteing pot to boil some Gordo little red beans, water to cover by 2″ and a handful of dulse – that seaweed trick.  About 2 hours later, put the beans in with the meat and cooked again until dinner time.  Awesome.  Absolutely delicious.  Zero effect from the beans, that seaweed trick is a god send, very cool.  It doesn’t leave any flavor either, perhaps adds salt, not sure.

Just before dinner (I just love that old crock pot….I can leave it and come home to something not only done but hot and ready).  So, before, around 4:30 we went into a little, tiny bookshop we love in Portsmouth (NH) called Sheafe Street Books (Center for Pointless Knowledge).  This little store is awesome – lots of new and used books.  It’s in such an offbeat place, the owner is awesome, we chat and chat about lots of ideas, he’s very cool and knowledgeable.  And, the best part, you know how you go in those cutey, trendy book stores and everyone is trying so hard to look intellectual and friggin COOL, not here, it’s just us chickens, we are what we are, readers!  I like that.  After buying all sorts of used books for my family I did find one new book that I couldn’t resist……Louise Erdrich, The Round House.  I have read a lot of her books and am currently in The Plague of Doves but this one, Hello, it is awesome.  I can’t put it down.  I do notice my shoulders are up around my ears – it’s suspenseful and I’m worrying.  Like I really need something to worry about? Probably not but the book is affecting me this way.  Her sentences are really beautifully displayed.  It’s kind of like sitting with a piece of good chocolate in your mouth, just kind of flows and moves along till the next sentence.  Buying books for Christmas gifts is a tradition for us – we both feel good about the cost.  I got a nice book about Buddhism for Paul Jr.s girlfriend, Allie.  Great intro with the addition of someone else having highlighted certain sentences for effect or memory.  Nice, I can skim and skip to the important thoughts (of someone else but….I’m easy).

This mornings paper had an interesting article about movies before “the code”, time period of end of silent films late 20’s and early 30’s golden age.  The code came into effect in 1934 called the puritanical production code.  In that little space of time, first talkies, the movies were depicted as “These escapism entertainments were united by loose morality, sustained titillation and fascination with all things insalubrious”.  Paul heard that and was ON IT.  But really, almost every single one has Barbara Stanwyck in it.  I would like to see Forbidden (1932) regarding a romance to Cuba.  The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) sounds good.  The Red Headed Woman with Jean Harlow (1932).  I love old movies.  A little while back I found my mothers Diary from the early 30’s, she has listed each movie she has seen.  I’m curious now to go back and see if she saw any of these “dark” features.  She was on her own quite a bit, went to the movies each day, hummmm.  She was 14 in 1932 – perfect age!  Little devil.

It’s snowing outside.  My birthday tradition is to weave all day!  I have one warp on the loom to weave a bit of, another warp that I wound yesterday that is going to be dish towels 50% Linen/50% Cotton. I wound so much that I ran out of fiber for weft – but, that’s on order so perhaps by Monday I’ll be weaving that one.  It takes me a few days to get the warp on the loom; it’s 8 yards of winding, then threading through heddles and then threading through the reed and tie up.  It’s a labor of love – each towel will be worth a million bucks by the time I’m done.  Speaking of millions… is the drawing for Power Ball, 245 million (I think).  Since it’s my birthday don’t you think I should win?

Well, I’m full.

Love that holiday but I always feel gross afterwards.  We drove the hell drive from our home in Maine to Cape May, New Jersey.  Actually, it’s a nice drive but there is New York City in between and with the state it is in now it was even worse.  How can it be just a perfectly sunny, kind of warm day and when you are in the Bronx approaching the George Washington Bridge everything completely shuts down and turns to a solid disgusting color of grey?  The traffic, the fighting for line space…’s like zombie land.  Horrible.  I wasn’t driving, as usual (Mr. hog the steering wheel was with me) so I did the head down, knit thing all the way through the city.  Check this out.  Remember, sunny day, about noon.

That was on Tuesday.  Things got better for us once we got over into Jersey…..we stopped off in Bradley Beach, just north of Sea Side Heights and south of Asbury Park.  My friend Patti and I found a pizza place there called Vic’s.  Two beers and a garlic pizza EACH was all we needed to de-stress from that trip.  Fabulous Jersey pizza, thin and spicy.  The crust cracks when you bite into it.

The storm damage was pretty amazing there.  All the streets were loaded up with tree debris, neatly stacked to the sides waiting removal.  I’m thinking they must have had some help, like special FEMA people or something as the debris was huge yet neatly stacked really high from every single yard.  It was kind of scary looking.

Wednesday a.m. we took the Jersey dogs to the beach….they have this really quiet, very long beach on the Delaware Bay side of Cape May…stunning.  Not a soul in sight.  But, a few jellies on the beach…hummm.

I have never seen one like this….and there were many just like this.  Ewww.

Here is my big size 10 foot measuring it.  What the heck is inside these things?

We had the best time with Gomer & Easter that day….just trotting along.  Gomer is my walking buddy from when he lived up here; he was very excited to be walking with me.  He’s blind on one side so he walks snug up against me on my right, his left good eye, so cute.  You look down at him and he’s just looking up at you saying “I love you Nani”.  Really.

That afternoon was pie baking time.  Ruth couldn’t find her pie plates so I used casserole dishes.  It worked really well.  We all liked seeing pies in weird shapes, especially deep dish, kind of fun.

Thanksgiving day my sister in law brought the appetizers…..”just a small amount Sandi, don’t forget we’re having turkey dinner” well, classic, enough as dinner for the next few days.  She should work with me catering I think.


South Jersey is kinda like being in THE SOUTH.  Very warm, temperate.  We had our apps. outside while Matt cooked a fried turkey in the driveway.  Very skeptical but you know what – it was the best I have ever had.  Moist like no tomorrow.

Of course we kept moving our chairs further back as the various neighbors came over with their “Jersey Sage” about who they knew that had it and it blew up, etc.  But, 1 hour 20 minutes later we were still unscathed and serving it in the house.  Whew, made it through that experiment.  Delicious.  Matt you can do that again!  At your house.

Other than the usual items Ruth made the famous Green Bean thing (which I still don’t like and don’t eat).  Even though she said it’s terrible the day of but awesome the day after….wrong, it’s yucky.


One year, hoping to improve the situation, I made it with all real, fresh, homemade stuff, i.e. a real mushroom roux, fresh green beans, etc. still nasty.

We had a wonderful day though.  It was nice being with family.  The problem I have is missing other parts of our family, our cutie pie grand daughters, sons, their wives and girlfriends.  Loved being with Ruth and Matt and Gomer and Easter.  Luna our dog was home with Paul and Allie so I missed her too.  Geech.  It is a sentimental holiday for me.  Our family, forever, always had a huge Thanksgiving…..grandparents, kids, pets, neighbors, very old school, old family type of stuff.  So, we watched the Godfather I & II – a bit of a different kind of family but family. It’s my idea of a great time.  I’m always really sad I didn’t meet Robert DeNiro when I was young and he was young living in the same town…..dam, he is friggin cute.   He looks a bit different now but then again so do I but I think I’m still 19 anyway.

Here we are at home again after having driven through the Black Friday fiasco.  It was actually a good day for driving the 8 hrs. home as everyone else was in the shopping stores we passed.  Mobs.  Stuff, all stuff, how come people don’t get this stuff as the year moves along and save it?  I was hyperventilating at the thought of going into a store; particularly in New York/New Jersey, are you kidding?  Those guys fight over crap and are nasty about the “bargains”.  Not for me.

I am just going to hole up in my sewing room and make the little girls some dresses for Christmas.  In one of their surprise bags (which they will be opening daily) it says there is a surprise out in the back yard that they have to go look for with the flashlights I put in the bag….that’s the dresses I have yet to make and ship.  So, I’m on it.  Also, I’m working out a warp for dishtowels as gifts for friends at Christmas; has to be something fast yet colorful, cotton & linen in guess what?  blues & greens no doubt.  Have a lovely day!