Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Year's Baby!

My new year's baby is no longer a baby! He turns fourteen this week!
In a way it's hard to believe so much time has passed. I remember the night he was born like
it was yesterday! I remember how strange it felt to leave the hospital with something so little and new. I didn't want anything to happen to him. It seemed unnatural to go out into the cold with such a fragile 'package'. The nurses just looked at me and said, "you'll be fine".
It wasn't so much me that I was worried about. It was the rest of the world--I couldn't control other drivers or the weather or any other danger that might cross our path on the ride home.
I have had two other children since then and I have to say it has gotten easier for me each time.
Although sometimes I still have the same worries. Now that he has grown and wants more freedom it's still not so much him that I worry about but what he might encounter when he heads out.
He has decided he wants to have a bunch of friends sleepover to celebrate his birthday. That will be a piece of cake. All I will need to do is clear out some space for them all to sleep and make sure I bake him a cake, some cookies and stock my fridge with sodas. Oh ya, and I will probably need to make sure I have an extra gallon or two of milk on hand.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Having Power Vs. Power-less!

Our electricity cut out last night from the storm around 8 p.m. and didn't come on today until around 2p.m. I had prepared myself for the worst since I'd been hearing so many horror stories about power being out around New England for days on end.
I gathered all my warm blankets, candles and flash-lights. I pulled out our propane stove from camping and put on a pot of coffee and made the kids grilled cheeses for lunch. We took all the items from our refrigerator and put them in coolers on the back porch.
We made numerous fires in the fire-place. Since I didn't know when or if the power would be coming back on I made everyone's bed with extra blankets early this morning so that when or if the house was without power everyone would at least have a warm comfortable place to go.
We planned to play board games by the oil lamp.
I suppose I managed it well because in all seriousness we weren't without power for that long- a night and a morning and into an afternoon.
I did manage to sneak upstairs throughout the day to wrap the rest of my christmas gifts.
My only regret is that I wanted to bake some banana bread with some very ripe bananas that are sitting on my counter but without having power I could not use my oven to bake the bread.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What a Difference a Week Makes & Baking Queen!

Remember the Abba song from the 70's, Dancing Queen? I feel like the 'Baking Queen' lately with the many delicious things I have been making for the holidays.
This week it's gift baskets for my husband's boss and their office.
I am also making these incredible sugar cookie balls with fresh chopped pecans and this amazing treat where you wrap cookie dough around a chocolate 'kiss' then roll it in flakes of coconut!
A week ago, I mentioned it was 14 degrees. Today it is in the 50's! I snuck in a walk in between baking sheets!
Feel free to order a half dozen of each of the cookies mentioned above at $12.95 (2 bags with six of each wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a pretty ribbon).
And of course, calories not included for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mother, Daughter Projects & Winter

My daughter Bella is no longer a baby. She hasn't been for quite a while. In my heart what I remember most about her is the many nights I held her, changed her and fed her. Now that she is a 'teen' I find I am lucky if I can steal even a hug.
We are in the middle of putting together gift baskets filled with a sample of dreamy island cookies, cranberry biscotti and sugar cookies for old friends. We have chosen a number of mom's to send them to. Mother and daugther's in Dallas, TX that she and I have shared friendships with. It's been a great way for me to spend time with her. She is a good baker.
Hopefully, the Christmas cookie tins will leave Cape Cod by the end of the week and head South.
It has been freezing on the Cape. Maybe she and I can squeeze in there too and head south ourselves--it's a lot warmer there. As the kids left for school Monday morning our temperature gauge read-14 degrees!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prudence Pie & Celebrating Birthday's

We went to my mom's last week to share our Thanksgiving meal. We had a good time.
Naturally, we all ate more than we needed to and the kids got to play a game or two with their grandmother.
My only regret of going there was that I didn't really get any leftovers of my own.
On Sunday I decided to cook a turkey with all it's fixings so that I could enjoy the many leftovers.
I think I have done well to utilize the 'bird'. You could say I have been prudent.
On Sunday there was the traditional turkey meal. On Monday I made a Turkey Soup and served it with grilled cheese sandwiches. On Tuesday I made Turkey Enchilada's.
I chopped the turkey fine and sauteed it with garlic and olive oil before rolling it with cheese and tortilla's then placed them in a baking dish and topped with a spicy red enchilada sauce. I baked it for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Later today I may see if there is enough left to bake a turkey and vegetable pie to freeze for a later date.
As for celebrating, today is my husband's birthday. The kids and I have decided to take him to an early dinner at Cafe Vilaggio--a fancy Italian restaurant in town. We saw in the paper that they have $9.99 early bird specials during the week. You could call us cheap--but I'd like to think of it as simply being prudent!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cranberry Biscotti dipped in White Chocolate




I recently filled orders for Cranberry Biscotti. I put white chocolate chips into the batter and I drizzle a bit of melted chocolate on top. It is such a simple and delicious treat to have on hand. I made sure I had a bunch left over (pictured here) to keep around the house. It's perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea. The kids like it to dip into hot chocolate.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fresh Baked Cranberry Muffins & Banana Bread

Is there such a thing as scent overload?
If there is I must be suffering from it!
In an effort to save time this morning I am baking cranberry muffins with a hint of orange peel while I am also baking banana bread.
My nose is kind of like 'Emeril' from those toothpaste commercials-Bam!
It smells scrumptious in my kitchen. With the holiday coming I have extra baking to do so I am simply trying to save time. My nose doesn't seem to mind.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chasing Rainbows & Perfect Pecan Pie

Did you see the rainbow (actually there were two) extending over the Upper Cape this past weekend?

We had to head off Cape on Saturday to bring Nathan to his Basketball Tournament in Bridgewater. It had been dark and rainy earlier in the day and then the sun suddenly decided to pop out and help create an amazing rainbow.

The drive on 28 between Falmouth through Bourne felt as if we were chasing a rainbow.

I suggested to Sophia that she make a wish--I heard her say very quietly, "I wish that this rainbow will always stay in my heart". She is four! It was one of the biggest and brightest rainbows I have ever seen. There was even a smaller, fainter one just behind it.

On Sunday I baked a perfect pecan pie. Traditional pecan pie is basically light Caro syrup, butter, sugar, egg and pecans. I made a double layered crust on the bottom. I mixed an egg with a package of cream cheese and brown sugar and a hint of vanilla. Then I layered a cup of pecans. I topped it with a whipped mixture of light Caro syrup, butter, eggs and a bit more vanilla. I baked it at 350 degrees for fifty five minutes.

Nathan said, " This is de--licious"! Bella said, "You have to make this for thanksgiving". I am pretty sure they liked my new dessert as much as Sophia liked catching the rainbow on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baking Life into the House

People often comment that I seem to really enjoy baking. I do. It's kind of a long story. The short version is that I have always wanted to give to the people around me and I have always wanted my home to be filled with life. Baking has been a quick route to satisfy both for me.

The smells, the heat from the oven, the textures and tastes of all the ingredients come together and turn my house from an ordinary structure into a really great home.

Over the summer we often have quite a few house guests--people who are just dying to see us--oh, and Cape Cod in the summer!

Last summer an old family friend came to stay with us for a week. They were a family of four coming from California and had never really been to New England. It's always a lot to have people stay in your home. Yet I wanted this particular group of guests to have an extra special memory of Cape Cod and their time with us.

So I decided to bake for them every day or at least as much as I could while they were visiting. I had jumbo chocolate chip cookies made for them when they arrived. Cranberry Biscotti dipped in white chocolate, peach and pecan empanadas and fresh baked lemon cake ready for them to wrap up and take with them when they headed into the City or over to the Vineyard for the day. They woke to the smells and tastes of fresh baked banana bread in the morning.

The last I heard the mom (a good friend of mine) took to the art of baking herself and that the rest of her family have been quite happy with her new found passion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sisters, Cookies & Cakeballs

I was chatting with one of my sisters on the phone the other morning. I casually mentioned that I had a fire in the kitchen the other day while I made pancakes for the kids and baked some cookies to fill an order.
"How terrible, what happened?" she asked anxiously.
You have to know my sisters. I love them, always will.
Although this particular sister takes most things quite literally.
I said, "it was in the fireplace".
Here is a picture of bite-sized cake balls so you can see what they look like.










Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bite-sized Cake Balls and Party Dresses!

I can always test the longevity and success of a new product through my daughter Bella. She could make a fortune as a taste-tester! Late yesterday afternoon I decided to make a batch of Cake-balls. It is another recipe passed to me by my mother in law.
Bella and I have been tossing holiday gift ideas around that we could make together and share with friends and family. We wanted to whip up a batch just to see if they tasted as good as they looked and were as fun as they sounded.
What a fun treat!
First, you bake a basic cake. This time we used chocolate. While it is still warm you break it apart in your mixer to which you blend in a tub of frosting. Chill for about two hours. Pull it out and roll into small balls. You can use a melon ball or an ice cream scoop.
Place balls on a cookie sheet cover with wax paper and freeze for up to six hours or more. Melt chocolate and roll the cake balls in, let harden. Optional, you can also roll them in sprinkles or other small candy before it hardens.
You can use vanilla cake and white frosting, even color the frosting pink or red!
These are not only delicious, they are so fabulous! They almost make me want to throw on my high heels and put on a pretty dress just to eat them!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chilly Mornings with Chocolate Chip Pancakes

The morning was chilly so I decided to build a fire in the living room fireplace. Summer on Cape Cod is gone-at least for now!
Bella had a couple of girlfriends sleepover last night so I decided to make them Chocolate Chip Pancakes with fresh melon for breakfast. I was hoping they weren't going to sleep all day so I tried to rouse them out of bed with warmth and fresh smells.
I wanted to use buttermilk but realized I was out. Did you know you can make buttermilk with a cup of regular milk to which you can add a teaspoon of either vinegar or lemon juice? You simply whisk them together and voila! Buttermilk.
As soon as I placed a tray of warm pancakes on the table and was about to call them for breakfast they emerged from their room-hungry!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back to Baking

Sophia had a friend over from her preschool class yesterday. We were looking for something to do so I whipped up a batch of my 'Nana's no-fail Sugar Cookies' and we rolled and cut them into pumpkin shapes and dipped them in colored sugars.
This morning I am baking a Chocolate Crown Cake and a Lemon Cake for a new client.
The other night I brought Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies to my women friends in my writing group. I have an order for multiple packages of cranberry biscotti that are going to be used in Cape Cod themed holiday gift baskets.
In November I am scheduled to do a baking demonstration at Highfield Hall. I have been asked to make empanadas. I have some creative ideas for flavor combinations. It should be fun because it's hands-on and participants will get to sample the empanadas.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Frosting 'Shots' & Helping Out Around the House

Thanks to an article recently published in the Dallas Morning News sent to me by my mother in law I have added a really fun treat to my menu repertoire. Today I made a batch of frosting shots. They are for people who mostly like the frosting side of a cake or cupcake.
First, I made a super creamy chocolate whipped (totally sugar induced) frosting. I scooped the mix into my pastry bag and swirled large dollops into little white paper cups.
They sort of just glide onto your tongue and slide down your throat!
My son told me when he was done trying his that he would help with anything I needed done if I'd just make some more.
Frosting 'shots' are definitely a 'hit' at our house.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baking Apple Pie Together


Bella hung out with me in the kitchen this afternoon as we baked this apple pie together.
I wish you could smell it for yourself. The secret ingredients in my apple pie are a dash of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of apple cider.
I am so glad I picked up vanilla ice cream from the market earlier.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Birthday Wish & The Magical Kitchen!

I wonder if it's OK to have as many birthday wishes to match your years? Like the way you get a candle to represent each year on your birthday cake? In a book by Don Miguel Ruiz their is a chapter called the Magical Kitchen. It's a book about love. Their is something so appealing to me about the idea of a Magical Kitchen. In my Magical Kitchen I would wave my wand to clean the dishes instantly. I would stock the pantry, refrigerator and freezer at whim.The one thing I wouldn't wave my wand over is the act of baking itself. I love it too much to sweep it away with a single wave of a wand. Although if I did have a magic kitchen I wouldn't mind using the wand to sweep the floor each morning and night. In my Magical Kitchen I would wish that everyone everywhere could have more than enough food to satisfy them completely. Not just a bowl of oatmeal or macaroni and cheese either-whatever meal would truly satisfy each and every person! As for my birthday wish if I tell you it probably won't come true!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Missing my Oven & Moving to Cape Cod

As a new school year gets underway full force I find myself missing my oven already. Last week I baked a ton. I had orders to fill, restocked the table at the farm and baked for different parties we attended over the holiday weekend.

When my kids schedule gets filled with fall activities I find it harder to spend long amounts of time in my kitchen using my oven. For now, I do what I have to do to get done then get out of there.
When I have lots of time to bake I am relaxed. Baking gives me time to reflect on my choices, on things happening in the lives of my kids and once and a while I even have enough time to create a new recipe.

One of my choices that I recently reflected on while baking was my decision to move to Cape Cod full time, year round. My friend Rob likes to point out that he is the reason that we moved to Cape Cod. A few years back while I was living in Dallas, TX I was involved in a high school email group. I announced one day that I was thinking about moving home to Massachusetts.

Rob pointed out that the Cape had milder weather than the rest of the state, provided a more recreational lifestyle than you find in other areas and who wouldn't want to live so close to the ocean? I have to admit it. He was right.

As for missing my oven, when I don't get enough time in my kitchen the house doesn't quite have those wonderful aromas, doesn't have that warm and cozy feeling and my kids don't have dreamy island cookies to greet them off the bus.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bun is 'Out' of the Oven!

I heard from a friend that another friend of ours that has been pregnant throughout the entire summer had her baby girl! I bet she is absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to meet her.

Their is something so special about a new baby-almost magical. These little 'packages' that emerge from the mother and into their arms. It always amazes me.

From where exactly do they come from? Naturally, I understand the biological side of things--but there's got to be something beyond that.

I will never (in all of the days of my life) forget the exact moment I met each of my three kids for the very first time.

I love the phrase a 'bun in (or out of) the oven' to refer to a baby in it's mother's womb. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen not only baking but preparing lots of meals too and I have found over the years that my kids (a long ago bun in the oven themselves) come to me so often to ask for help on something, to chat with me or to ask for a ride to a friends while I am in the kitchen.

It is a place where I often have a 'real' bun in the oven-like a cake or some cookies. In fact, I have lots of cookies to bake this morning for a party tomorrow.

But first, to my dear friend, I wish you the very best with your new little 'bun' who is no longer in your 'oven'. I wish your family the smoothest transition possible in having a new baby in the house and I wish you lasting friendship and joy with your new daughter.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Baking & Beauty



I have been thinking about beauty this week: how beautiful Cape Cod is in the summer, how beautiful my girls are and how beautiful something as simple as a cake can be.

We have a family of four visiting us from California. They've never been to Cape Cod. Naturally they find it beautiful.

This photograph is from my daughter's cell phone. She forwarded it to me while they were on the ferry home from a day trip to Martha's Vineyard. I stayed back that particular day because I wanted to fill my table at the farm.
Late yesterday afternoon I delivered mini lemon cakes and dreamy island cookies. Good thing too-when I arrived my table was completely empty. The weather for today looks beautiful! We are going to take them out to the Outer Cape-go for a swim, maybe a hike and find a fun place for a good meal.

Oh, where has the time gone this summer?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dreamy Island Cookies

On November 6th of last year I posted an entry here called "The True Tale behind Dreamy Island Cookies". Most of that particular post ended up in a Falmouth Food Column published in the Falmouth Enterprise.
There is something that keeps coming back to me about how special these cookies are. They are not only delicious but the recipe was created out of a fun adventure I had with my kids.
I made three batches of Dreamy Island Cookies this week. One batch was made on the morning my son had three friends at the house for a summer sleepover.
As the boys grow into their adolescence I find it can be challenging to know how best to interact with them. They're certainly not babies--not quite adults. They're always hungry, love their privacy, stay up super late and sleep in all morning.
As they emerged from their slumber they all said, "Wow, those cookies smell so good!"
Granted, cookies can't show me how to raise a teenage boy, but they definitely get the conversations started.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Girl After My Own Heart & Mama Mia!

Bella celebrated her birthday last night. She invited some friends over for pizza and a sleepover. I took them to see Mama Mia! I knew I was going to love it.
It was so much fun. The movie was funny and sweet and very entertaining. I can't wait to get the music soundtrack. It would be perfect as back ground music for baking or cleaning house.
One of her friends brought her a special gift that went in the refrigerator as soon as she arrived. It turned out to be a home made chocolate brownie carved into her name-Bella!
It was creative and thoughtful- a girl after my own heart.
I delivered a triple chocolate decadence cake yesterday to a client. I topped the dark chocolate ganache with a decorative treat in the shape of a whale.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dog Days of Summer!

Dog Days of Summer refer to those very hot days during July and August.
I did a quick search on phrasefinder.org and the origin of this phrase goes back to the ancient Romans. The site explains that "the Romans noticed that the hottest days of the year, i.e. in late July and early August, coincided with the appearance of Sirius - the Dog Star, in the same part of the sky as the Sun. Sirius is the largest and brightest star in the Canis Major constellation, in fact it is the brightest star in the sky. The ancients believed that the star contributed to the heat of the day".
For me, Dog Days of Summer mean that when I am baking I gather every fan I can find and position them around my kitchen. It also means that I sneak away to the water every chance I get.
Over this past weekend we met some friends out on Sandy Neck. They have an RV and park it out there for a few days at a time. You never quite know what the day will bring! Saturday we huddled under the awning as we watched a storm pass by. The best part of that day was the brief time just after the storm had passed.
This week I am baking for the farm, filling a Gift Basket order and creating a super chocolate cake for a client's birthday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Reads & Warm Muffins

A long time friend of mine (we met in the second grade) recently passed on five books for me to read. My first thought: what good deed could I possibly have done to deserve this? I know her tastes so if she liked the books chances are I will enjoy them also.

Lately stopping at the Library to find something new to read can be frustrating. When you don't have a book in mind it can be a little like looking for a dropped coin or ring you've inadvertently lost on the beach-impossible!

The one I am reading now makes me laugh every few pages. It's an easy summer read called: The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters.

As for warm muffins. Yum! There are so many ways to make muffins. From a sweet chocolate chip or banana pecan to a savory leek and ham muffin or a crab and cream cheese.

Muffins are great straight from the oven or tucked away in the freezer for late night munchies.

Recipe for Cranberry Muffins:

butter (for greasing)
generous 1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c milk
1 1/8 c fresh cranberries
1/4 c grated Parmesan

Oven to 400 degrees. Sift the flour, powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
In separate bowl, combine the butter, eggs and milk, then pour into the bowl of dry ingredients.

Mix lightly together until all of the ingredients are combined, then stir in the fresh cranberries. Divide the batter into 18 prepared cups. Sprinkle Parmesan over top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and golden brown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Guests & Beach Weather

I am back home from a quick over night trip off Cape. Sophia and I made the small journey to see family and friends because my two oldest are at a summer camp this week and it seemed like a good time to sneak away.
I have been baking all day today. I am making a Fabulous Carrot Cake for an upcoming wedding shower and I have Dreamy Island Cookies in the oven now for my next farm delivery.
I spoke to the sweetest lady today on the telephone about how much she likes my lemon cake.
Those calls are good for me-especially when their is a little part of me that wishes I spent the day at the beach today. Mostly because time spent outdoors and on the beach can be so limited.
On Friday I am expecting a total of seven house guests for the weekend. I have been mopping, doing laundry and changing sheets like no body's business while my goodies are in the oven.
Have you ever heard the kids song that sings:
"Cousins, cousins here come the boys! Bedlam, mayhem, noise noise noise..."?
It's the perfect song for this weekend-my house guests include my two sisters, four nephews (under six) and my sixteen year old niece. Not to mention my three children.
Here's to hoping for some of that Cape Cod beach weather!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Raising Kids & Baking Cakes

I may be reaching a little here but I always find so many similarities between raising my kids and baking a cake. My kids need the right amount of love, attention and discipline so they have room to grow in the world. My cakes also need just the right amount of my love and attention. If I put too much of this or that or if I leave out a little of something the cake can fall flat or even worse not taste quite right. When one of my kids doesn't get enough sleep, consumes too much sugar without a healthy meal to go along with it or simply hasn't had time to play and be free then they too 'fall flat' or don't seem 'quite right'.
It's always a juggle for me to get my kids to all their activities on time and replenish my table at the farm not to mention filling other orders that come in. I suppose I can learn from the kids and the kitchen that maybe it's simply a matter of striking a balance between giving my time to my kids and giving myself to my kitchen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nantucket Charm & Sugar Cookies






With the older kids visiting their Grandmother in Dallas, July 4th seemed like the perfect day to pop over to Nantucket. We rode the early fast ferry from Hyannis. Here are a couple pictures from the excursion. I also threw in a recent picture of my lobster and starfish shaped sugar cookies. They taste as good as they look!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viva La Vida!

A Spanish speaker I am not. I took french throughout high school. Although my days as a waitress in Los Angeles as I put myself through College lent my ear to many south of the border phrases.
The popular Coldplay song titled above translates (I am pretty sure) as "I Live the Life".
On a pretty Cape Cod day I am tempted to speak a similar phrase. Although as I walk through my busy days as a baker, writer, mom to three, wife, etc- I get it. My version of "I Live the Life" looks different than the popular phrase in song- I hold the key.
Most days I can't even find my keys.
But I'm like most people- there are things that are beyond first appearances. Beyond appearances.
My son reminds me the song reflects a story in the French revolution.
Like all good stories their must be a universal message here. Take the good with the bad. Don't stop short. Embrace life.
Isn't it true that sometimes the things we should really 'get' we miss entirely? I know there are times I do.
For now, it's simply summer on Cape Cod: Viva la Vida!
Over the weekend I made Dreamy Island Cookies, Two Sand Pail Cakes: one for Sophia's fourth birthday, the other for a cake auction Bella entered and a carrot cake.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fresh Picked Blueberry's & Friends

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." ~ Anais Nin


We were invited for dinner at an old friends house Monday. I love spending time with friends so much. For me, it is kind of like the way Nin explains (she is better at explaining it than me).

There are friends who by simply meeting them can draw out my silly side, adventurous side, serious side, etc. I love them all.

Our friends served a delicious blueberry cobbler for desert. Blueberries are perfect right now-sweet and plump and all around yummy.

Gather some fresh blueberries at the market or even better find a spot to pick them yourself. Invite your friends over and watch a new world born!

You can serve the blueberries with fresh cream, vanilla ice cream or with home made biscuits topped with creme fraiche. Or you can search the link to joyofbaking.com for wonderful recipes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Aunt Ollie, Apple Pie & Apologies

When you realize you've made a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm. ~Dan Heist
My aunt Ollie passed away last week. She was ninety three. Born in 1914. She is someone who witnessed major changes in her lifetime. I attended her funeral over the weekend. I am happy I was able to go. The main thing the pastor shared about her is how good she was at keeping in touch with the people she loved. That is such a good quality to posses. My two older kids are becoming teens and I am trying to instill that in them too.

I remember when I was a kid that she was really good at making apple pie too. She was especially good at making the crust. Her pies were delicious!

As for apologies: I sell three different sizes of lemon cake: 6 oz, 8 oz and 48 oz. My large lemon cakes are the best deal-easier on me and serves 10-14 people. Recently I inadvertently used my medium sized labels on my small cakes-oops. Sorry! I think there were only about three sold but if you bought a small cake that read 8 oz and it wasn't--I'm sorry! Please write to me and I'd be happy to leave you a true 8 oz lemon cake at the farm for you.

I have corrected the problem--no future worries. As for the crow in the quote above I am not entirely sure what he has to do with it but I liked the meaning overall. The lemon cake is delicious. It's a perfect recipe. Lots of fresh lemon, eggs and pudding in the mix make it a tasty treat.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Generosity & Gratitude

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.
Chinese Proverb

I came across this quote in a book I was reading the other day. It struck me because at first all I could think about was who eats bamboo sprouts?
As I thought about it a little more I realized what it's really about is a reminder to be generous and have gratitude for things that have come before us.
In an attempt to remember 'the man who planted them' I extend my gratitude to my husband for being a good dad, to my friends who stay in touch with me even when their own lives get hectic and to every one who ordered baked goods from me last week- the woman who had the surprise party for her husband and bought a few large cakes and to the woman who ordered my starfish sugar cookies for a private party.
This coming week I will offer my generosity to my older daughter's school. I will make lemon cakes for an end of the year breakfast and cookies for the classroom party that will celebrate summer birthdays.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spirea, Sex & Starfish

"Who are you to be talented, gorgeous and fabulous...who are you not to be?" -Marianne Williamson


This Spirea bush is in full bloom in my front yard. There are four others just like it. I have been surprised at how big they are getting. They're gorgeous.

A bunch of women friends stopped over last night for cosmos and appetizers before we went to see "Sex & The City." One thing I really love and appreciate about that movie is how tight the four girls are.

Before the movie I offered a toast as we sipped our cocktails- I shared with them the quote from Marianne Williamson above. I want to try to encourage my women friends as much as friends have encouraged me over the years.

On Friday I stopped at the Woods Hole Aquarium with Sophia and I saw a coral colored starfish. I am going to look for that color and try to duplicate it. I already have for sale pink, green, red, blue and purple starfish. I think coral colored starfish sugar cookies would be adorable too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ordinary Perfection





"Ordinary perfection is being true to ourselves, to the way things are. Do we go into the garden wishing that the pansies were taller than the daffodils, or thinking that the roses would be fine if only they didn't have thorns? Do we go into a Kindergarten and wish that the children would fit into some model of perfection we hold, or can we see that variety makes the beauty of gardens and humans?" From After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield.

No two of my cakes or cookies will ever be exactly alike. That is part of the fun and beauty of it all. Life really is perfect in it's ordinary imperfections. My oven is off today. I baked late last night and I will be baking again in the morning. My daughter and I went to the beach yesterday. It was gorgeous. I snapped a picture of Sophia while she was playing in the sand-she turned away just before the image was captured. But even still I think it's an ordinary perfect picture.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oven is On!

I am busy baking today.

I am making mini Lemon Cakes and Dreamy Island Cookies for the farm tomorrow. I use fresh lemon, pudding, powdered milk and unsalted butter in my lemon cakes. I add chopped pecans, diced coconut and semi sweet chocolate chips to my Dreamy Island Cookies.

It does make a difference in baking when you use fresh, wholesome and natural ingredients.

It is gorgeous on Cape today. I have all my windows open and I hope to catch a walk at South Cape Beach later today.
My delivery time for Coonamessett Farm is estimated at ten a.m. tomorrow morning.
I always want to hear from people who have eaten my cookies and cakes. I received two recent emails about my lemon cake-"awesome" and "delicious".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Soiree

We decided to have a little party to welcome the near arrival of summer at our house last Friday over Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to have a fire-pit in the back yard. My oldest daughter and I gathered the rocks. My husband dug the hole and collected fire-wood.
The fire made the party more casual and relaxed-like camping in the back yard. We laughed and talked as we sat around it.
I served lots of food. We had shrimp cocktail, meatballs, hummus with feta and vegetables, chips and queso.
For desert I baked a chocolate crown cake, soft lemonade sugar cookies and served the peach and pecan empanada's I made last week. I think the party was a hit.
I am so happy summer is on it's way!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Empanadas: Hot from the Oven!




When I first tried an empanada it was a sausage and vegetable filled pastry. But the dough can just as easily be used to house snack or dessert foods.


I tried a batch from scratch with peaches and pecans.
I made the dough early yesterday morning. Later in the afternoon I put peach slices, pecans, a bit of brown sugar and a spoonful of sour cream in the center of the dough before I rolled and crimped them. Next chance I get I am going to bake them with apple, cranberries, walnuts and a bit of cream cheese.

Yumm! They are best eaten warm from the oven. But they do freeze well and can be reheated later.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Top Five Reasons to Visit Coonamessett Farm, Falmouth

5. The grounds are beautiful.
4. The animals might appreciate the company.
3. It's good to spend time outdoors after a long winter.
2. You can pick your own vegetables.
And the number one reason to visit the Coonamessett Farm in Falmouth is.....
1. You can buy my Cakes and Cookies.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trial & Error with a Silver Lining

“Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there’s nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone.” Terry Pratchett

Today I decided to wake up super early. I had two small writing assignments to complete, sugar cookie samples to bake for a new client and I wanted to make my lemon cake for the farm. I am heading off Cape Saturday and I wanted to get the tasks complete.

The morning went smooth enough. I finished cookie samples before Sophia even went to school and I made green starfish and blue whale sugar cookies as a birthday gift for her preschool teacher.

After that the day took a turn downhill. My lemon cake and I were simply not clicking . I had to go through three batches of cake before I got it the way I wanted. Somehow one batch got a little burned (maybe it was because I was writing at my desk and overlooked the timer) and another simply didn't want to come out of the pan.

After trial and error I finally produced a good batch of my lemon cake for sale. I guess I just need to see the silver lining here-the kids were happy to eat the batches that aren't quite going to make it to market.

Beyond that my daughter was being challenged by some friendship stuff at school. I tried to share with her what I'd learned from the botched lemon cakes in case it might help.

Not to give up. Try again. Look for the silver lining. As a mom to three I hate it when something isn't going right for my kids.

In the past two years I have made close to 150 lemon cakes without any trouble at all. I guess some days are going to offer room for trial and error-maybe that's what leads to silver linings in the first place.

Now that I am done what I had to do I am free to have some fun over the weekend-it's another silver lining.




Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thanks, Mom!

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." Mark Twain

One thing in particular that I appreciate my mother did for me was that when I was quite young-maybe 8 or 9 even she bought me a kids' cookbook of my own and would encourage me (or maybe it was really me doing the persuading) to make dinner for the family once a week.

I learned a lot from those trials and error. I also started my love for being in the kitchen at an early age.

I brought Dreamy Island Cookies, Magical Mermaids and Sweet Starfish shaped sugar cookies to the farm for sale yesterday. I have a batch of Hazelnut shortbread ready to be baked and I made a Lemon Cake for a friends Mother's Day party today.

Thanks Mom and Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Martha's Vineyard, The Ferry & Dreamy Island Cookies


Sophia and I spent yesterday morning at Woods Hole. Our morning reminded me that we'll have to plan a trip over to the Vineyard soon.
My Dreamy Island Cookies were inspired by a previous trip on the ferry ride from an afternoon spent over there.
By this weekend I will have Dreamy Island Cookies available for sale at the Coonamessett Farm Store in Falmouth. Can you make out the Vineyard from the top picture? Look at how green the water is near the shore. Of course, that's the Ferry arriving at Wood's Hole.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Funny Bumper Stickers, Spring Blooms & Baking

I probably should have been more busy baking this weekend. I have a few things coming up that I need to bake for.

But since my husband has been out of town I have mostly been driving all over the Upper Cape to help keep my kids involved in their activities. The truth is at their ages they need me to get them to where they want to go.

In my travels I saw a bumper sticker that made me laugh. It read "Monica Lewinsky's Ex-boyfriend's Wife for President". I am not a Hillary hater (or lover) for that matter. It's our fascination with the mundane side of things that makes me laugh the most. Do I think Hillary can help us to solve so many of the problems we face as a Country? If yes, then that's what I am mostly interested in.

After a weekend of almost constant rain I notice that the spirea is in full bloom in my back yard. The wild flowers I planted in my side yard are taking root and the Hosta's are starting to show signs of their presence.

With Mother's Day on the horizon I have a few extra orders for cookies and cakes. After all that running around maybe the kids will go to bed early and I might just get a bit of my baking done after all or I might just join them and go to bed too. I can always get an early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nobska Point Lighthouse, Woods Hole



I think my Nana would have been impressed with this photo. I took it during Spring Break last week. Friends invited us to meet them at a park near here and I grabbed the image while driving by in the car. (I stopped in the road for a quick minute.)
Nana passed away about thirteen years ago now-I remember it by counting my son's birthday. She died as he was being born. She died just as cell phones and constant Internet connections exploded. I can picture the conversation. "Nana. take a look at this picture-I took it with my cell phone". Her reply, "Really?"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Change

‘If you can neither accept it or change it, try to laugh at it.’
Ashleigh Brilliant

I know I've heard it said about Cape weather that if you don't like what's happening outside just wait-it's about to change. Our long and steady streak of pretty days gave way to a rainy and cold Monday. Naturally my youngest daughter and I were out at the library only wearing our flip flops and a t-shirt when the clouds began to darken and the drops began to fall.
Like most things that seem hard at the time-it wasn't easy for us to laugh at it this morning while we were being drenched and feeling cold- but later in the day as we snuggled on the couch together reading our borrowed books could we give the whole thing a smile.
Aren't their so many things in life that seem so terrible or at least a burden at the time when only later do we go back and laugh at it all?
My oven has recovered from it's case of 'spring fever'. Just in time, I have all kinds of sweet treats ready to bake this week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cape Cod in the Spring



It's spring fever. That is what the name of it
is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is
you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

~Mark Twain

The weather has been so gorgeous here lately. We have been spending as much time as possible outdoors. This picture is from a beach we went to today in Dennis. I don't know what I am more impressed with: the quality of the picture from my simple cell or the way the water looks so inviting with the thin line of clouds above the horizon.
I gave my oven the day off today! I think it has a case of 'spring fever'.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

What is going in my oven later today? In a moment, but first..

Trying to convince my kids that a trip to the MFA will be fun is a little like trying to tell them that their pancakes will be just as good without the syrup. I am a brave soul and I wanted to expose them to something different. Besides with a week off -a foray into Boston from the Cape is a must.

I learned three things yesterday. In the music gallery I learned that Ben Franklin invented an instrument. It was glass housed in a wooden box. I learned that Antonio Lopez Garcia, an artist from Madrid, will put a painting away for up to a year if the lighting from the current season has altered dramatically. I also learned that you can get kids to do just about anything if you promise a trip to the museum cafe for desert.

I was impressed that Garcia would choose to do that with his paintings. I would worry that when I finally came back to the painting a year later I would no longer have the same passion I had for it the year before or I would look at it again and want to change it so much that their would be no point in continuing on that particular painting. I admire his commitment to the creative process. He seems to have an unusual trust in his work.

As for pancakes without syrup-I actually like them better that way. As for what is going into my oven today- lemon cakes and banana bread.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

View from South Cape Beach & Friends

My daughter and I took a quick trip to South Cape Beach yesterday. We walked for awhile. I found three of the most amazing shells. She had fun running along the shore. It's still a bit chilly down there but we bundled up in our sweatshirts and walked in the sand. Luckily she likes the beach as much as I do.

I had lunch with two girlfriends today. It was a nice break from my busy routine. Over the years, friends have always meant a lot to me. It's easy to get busy and overlook people that matter to us.

I am making soft lemonade cookies later today. We have company coming for dinner tomorrow night and I know they will like the refreshing treat. It's a super simple recipe with frozen lemonade concentrate as the suprise ingredient.
Sometimes all it takes is a quick dose of the little things: walk on the beach, time with friends and good cookies.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Garlic Potato Biscuits & Dipping Cookies in Chocolate

I made Garlic Potato Biscuits yesterday. Yum!

You have to like a denser biscuit-these are not light and fluffy but they taste delicious especially if you eat them warm from the oven. I served them with a Chicken Alfredo Casserole.

And, I had a batch of cookies left over from the weekend and some leftover melted chocolate from a chocolate cake I'd baked early Monday morning. I decided to dip my cookies into the chocolate. I had white and milk chocolate available for dipping. I placed half of the cookie into the chocolate and let harden. Talk about a match made in heaven.

Recipe for Garlic Potato Biscuits

large potato (peeled, diced)
4 garlic cloves
1/3 c butter softened
tsp salt
tsp pepper
2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 c milk

Boil the potato and the garlic in a saucepan until tender then drain. Add the butter and mash. In a medium bowl stir the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the potato mixture until mixture is crumbly. Add milk, stir well. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a 1/2 in. cutter (Or simply use the top of a 2 glass or cup to make shape). Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Van Gogh, cookies, cookies & more cookies

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."~ Van Gogh

My husband and I went to see a performance last night called "Inventing Van Gogh." It was good-the play was complex but it was done so well that you could easily follow the shifts and turns of the drama.

They're so many sad details about the life of Van Gogh and yet he was incredibly talented and prolific in his painting output-over 400 paintings in ten years. I'd say that's an example of 'great things being done by a series of small things'.

I have been baking cookies each day this week. I am trying new samples to ready myself for summer baking and pulling together samples for a potential client's wedding. Each day I throw into my oven a different recipe-by week's end I have five different samples ready to be tested. These small things brought together have made my family happy this week too. Naturally, they are available to sample taste test for me.

I have samples of chocolate truffle cookies, hazelnut shortbread, super chunky chocolate, white chocolate and sugar cookies. I wouldn't claim this to be 'great' but by baking even a little each day I can stay on top of my baking responsibilities while keeping my family happy too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

From Scratch

I love the phrase-from scratch. What it usually refers to in baking is when you make a cake or cookie recipe with the bare basics not a mix of any kind. It usually requires a little extra effort too.

You take butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, etc and mix it together to form something that will end up as a handmade cake, cookie or bread loaf. Their is a certain 'science' involved in baking from scratch. I feel good when I make something this way- it's pure and basic and an added sense of pride about what was made.

All my baked goods for sale are made from scratch except one recipe that I begin with a 'mix'. I always add the very best butter and freshest eggs and milk or cream to it. Once in a while if I am in a rush and we are having company or the kids need something for their lunch I might start something from a box.

They're some really good recipes where you begin with a 'box' too it's just as a baker I feel I've 'cheated' a little if I use a box to get the recipe started.

In my baking class we made all our treats from scratch except for the very last night. We were trying to conserve time because we were planning a party at the end of the evening and I also thought it would be fun to show them that sometimes it's worth it to start with a box mix like the tasty Chocolate Almond Biscotti we made that night started from a simple brownie mix. That recipe makes up for it in the extra time needed to bake the Biscotti twice then melt and drizzle the chocolate.

They're other things we do 'from scratch' too. Like my husband and I started our family 'from scratch'. We moved across country and started a new life here 'from scratch' after being away for ten years. And I started my baking business 'from scratch'.

Doing something (anything) from scratch implies that little extra effort or attention that turns something from just OK to extra-ordinary.
It's raining on the Cape. I am going to make Hazelnut Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate today (from scratch).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Recipe for Coconut Pound Cake & Love Notes

My husband has been leaving me sweet little love notes under a clean coffee mug next to a pot of fresh brewed coffee each morning for about a week now. I find them after he has already left for his day before I start getting the kids ready for school. He has come such a long way! Girls, there is hope.
I remember years ago he used to tell me I had to make the coffee in the morning because he didn't know how to! I love the thoughtful little notes.
Today Sophia and I have been baking samples that I am bringing to a network business breakfast tomorrow morning. I threw a loaf of Pecan bread in the oven too because it's such a good treat for the morning and having something ready makes getting the kids to their bus stop on time that much easier.
I leave you with a recipe for Coconut Pound Cake-if you make this you won't be disappointed.
The grocery store I shop at had some delicious fresh strawberries on sale this week. Top the coconut pound cake with fresh strawberries- It's Simply Delicious!

Coconut Pound Cake:
Cake: 2 C. Sugar
1 stick butter flavored shortening
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
2 1/4 C. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup shredded coconut, chopped

Glaze: 1/2 C sugar
1/4 C water
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract

Heat oven to 350. Grease large bundt pan.
For cake, combine sugar and shortening in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the extract. Combine flour, b. powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture, beat at low speed after each addition until well blended. Add coconut. Mix until blended. Spoon into greased pan.
Bake for 50 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool five minutes transfer to wire rack.
For Glaze, Combine sugar, water and coconut extract in small saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Spoon over cake then let cool completely.
Slice fresh strawberries and use as a garnish to a slice.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hope & A Longing for Easter Meal

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

What does the endless immensity of the sea represent for you? For me, it's often writing, baking, friendship, mothering and creativity in general. I am most hopeful when I long for these endeavors. When I know I have connected with my children or I have completed a writing assignment I am filled with something that matters to me. There is a hope that gets reborn.
When I want to 'build a ship' so to speak I reach beyond the mundane of herding or collecting and head foward into the 'endless immensity'.

I always think of Easter as a hopeful time. Spring has sprung! I baked lemon cakes and cookies for our holiday desert today. I made an apple cider & brown sugar glaze for the ham, garlic mashed potatoes (whipped with garlic and butter) and fresh asparagus. Of course, there are warm rolls, fresh pineapple and tasty appetizers too. A good meal can bring hope in the simplest of ways.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mermaid Magic


These are how the mermaid's turned out. We baked from dinner until bed time last night. The kitchen was a mess but we had a lot of fun baking.
I like it when the girls bake with me. They can talk to me about their day-what is making them happy or what makes them feel disappointed.
It gives us a chance to work side by side, laugh, get on each other's nerves a little and of course eat our delicious creations. We decided not to frost them--quicker time from the oven into our belly's.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Snowfall & Sugar Cookies

The picture below shows the view from my writing desk. I took it because there is a snowfall this morning which you really can't see from the picture but trust me there is light snow falling on Cape Cod right now.
So much for my hopes that Old Man Winter had walked away for the season. I have been planning an Easter Egg Hunt in the yard this weekend. The crazy thing about Cape Cod weather is we may have 'just right' back yard weather by then.
The girls and I mixed up my favorite "Nana's No Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe" last night. It is chilling in the refrigerator. We've decided instead of cutting our cookies into bunnies and eggs this year we are cutting the dough into mermaids, starfish and daisies-a fresh way to welcome spring!
We'll still use the pastel colored sugar to coat them. But we wanted to be a little more creative this year. Besides, I couldn't locate my egg and bunny cookie cutters and decided not to drive all around town in search of new ones.

Friday, March 14, 2008

101st Blog Post & Family

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
~Erma Bombeck

For anyone counting (I am certain it would only be me) this is my 101st blog post. In my tiny spot of 'cyber' space I have shared recipes, photos of gorgeous cape cod, life with children and comments about baking in general. What I love about 'blogging' is it allows me a chance to look back at a record of my days. I hope at least the recipes have been helpful.

Bombeck's quote on family is so spot on. My two oldest often razz each other off the computer they share or out of the bathroom when the other one needs it. Recently while driving I pointed out to them while they were overly prodding each other that it was important they maintain their relationship because in the years to come they would most likely outlive their parents and they would appreciate having each other to reminisce about us. I wasn't being morbid just trying to point out one of those 'common threads that bound us all together'.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baking Biscotti & Creativity in the Kitchen

The word biscotti means twice (bis) baked (cotto). Biscotti stores well, travels great and has a long shelf life.
There is evidence that the Romans made biscotti because they traveled often and a twice baked cookie was durable. The longer you cook something the drier it gets. The modern biscotti with all kinds of fruit, nuts and chocolate added were perfected by the Italians.
Last night was the final class for the winter semester of 'Fun & Fabulous' food. The course I have been teaching through Falmouth Night School. We made biscotti. We did chocolate almond biscotti with a bit of white chocolate drizzled on top.
We had a little end of semester party. I made a lemon cake. Another student brought her 'no-bake' chocolate cookies. They were a good group of bakers. I hope I have inspired them to continue being creative in their own kitchens.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Raising Children

"Govern a family as you would cook a small fish-very gently". - Chinese Proverb

My son informed me last night that he should be able to watch what I thought was a ridiculously inappropriate (especially for his age) television show on MTV2. I told him he could watch it when he was a teenager. He said, "Mom, I am a teenager".
Long Pause. Oh, ya! He sort of had me on that one.
I said, "You can watch it when your fifteen".
He said, "How about we compromise and I can watch it when I am fourteen"?
The years have flown by because it seems like just yesterday he was heading to Kindergarten and the little trick that 'you can do (fill in blank here) when you are a teenager' really isn't that effective anymore.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bean & Cod

There's a little specialty food shop on Main St. in Falmouth called Bean & Cod.
The greater Boston area which naturally extends to Cape Cod is rich in history and tradition. Boston Baked Beans are famous around here and the Cod fish is pretty well known too. Why do you think they called this Cape-Cape Cod?
This weekend you can buy one of my Fabulous Carrot Cakes, Supreme Lemon or Delicious Orange Pound Cakes at the Bean & Cod in downtown Falmouth.
Naturally, they are very fresh. I baked each of them with special care and I used only the finest and freshest of ingredients. My Carrot Cakes have three cups of fresh carrots. My Lemon Cakes have fresh squeezed lemon juice. My Orange Pound Cakes have grated orange peel and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Are you in the mood for some cake? If you are in Falmouth this weekend head to the Bean & Cod and pick up a simply delicious treat.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Building Baking into the Family

Baking is a way of life for me. By default it is a way of life for my family. Sometimes they have to accept that certain baked goods will have to go untouched by them because I am baking for a 'client' instead. They will have to put up with an excessively flour caked kitchen on a day that I am baking. They will have to understand that sometimes the butter that is in the freezer or the last three eggs in the refrigerator need to be used for something other than the breakfast they had in mind. If they need those eggs now they are simply going to have to wait until I can get to the market again. Or in the meantime have toast and oatmeal instead.
There are some notable benefits of life with a baker too. Our kitchen is often extra warm on a cold day. I always try to have some yummy treat left over in the freezer for them if a 'sweet craving' unexpectedly takes hold. They get simple satisfaction from life when a friend asks, 'did your mom make those cookies and that cake?' And then they often will follow with 'they were delicious'.

Friday, February 22, 2008

By the Look of Things & 'A New Earth'


By the look of things it is going to be a while until we can throw our swimsuits on around here. At first the snow is always so pretty-I welcome the change for now.
I just finished reading Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth". The gist of it suggests that we stop focusing on our Egos and choose instead to live more fully in the present moment.
With that in mind I am going to make a roast for dinner. I will fold the laundry I have been ignoring and get my kitchen organized for my upcoming week of baking.
I brought in some firewood from outside to dry. We are going to make some hot chocolate later. Good thing I picked up those wonderful mini marshmallows the last time I was at the store.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Love LA & Comforts of Home


Our trip to LA was fun. The weather was a lot warmer and sunnier on the west coast than on Cape Cod. We even wriggled ourselves into our swimsuits a few times. We went out to eat a lot, walked on the beach, caught up with old friends.

I forgot how big smoothie shops are there. We had lots of fresh fruit smoothies. I forgot how people spend there winters on the beach in Hermosa Beach-volleyball, flag football and lots of beer and music from local bars. We watched many sunsets from our hotel room. I also forgot how warm and comfortable my own bed is. Isn't it great to be back home after a trip?
The picture is of the Hermosa Beach Pier taken from right in front of our hotel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oven is on Today & Comforts of Baking

Nora Ephron, American Journalist said, “What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It's a sure thing! It's a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who long for some kind of certainty are forced to settle for crossword puzzles".

In this vein I am making best banana bread and a batch of jumbo chocolate chip cookies to take with us on our winter vacation. Well at least for the ride to the airport.

Kids love little comforts of home to take with on the road and my baked goods never last long. I would extend what Ephron said to any kind of baking too. I think my oven may be a little lonely without me or maybe the truth is I am going to miss my oven (a little) while we are away.

Luckily, I have a new client to bake for when I return.

Monday, February 11, 2008

From "Sea to Shining Sea" & Winter Vacation

Before I moved back from Dallas to Cape Cod friends warned me to plan my vacations in the winter. It was fifteen degrees when the kids headed out for the bus this morning. I am starting to remember why.
Luckily I have been packing for a trip we are taking together over winter break to a warmer, sunnier climate.
I have packed swimsuits, flip-flops and a couple of pairs of shorts. We leave Falmouth later this week. We head to Boston, hop on a plane to New York where we will make a connecting flight to Los Angeles. We plan to rent a car and head down to Hermosa Beach for the week.
The place we are staying sits right on the Strand and has a heated outdoor pool. We plan to soak up lots of sun and sand.
I used to live in Hermosa Beach. It's where I met my husband. At the time, I worked mostly in restaurants to help put myself through College at UCLA where I eventually earned a degree in English Literature.
I practiced my baking a lot when I lived there. I'd make cookies and breads for friends. There was a little French bakery/cafe on Pier Ave. that I used to like to order French Roast Coffee and Chocolate Croissants from. They had a little outdoor patio where we used to sit and soak up the sun.
I wonder if it's still there. I wonder what else has changed about Hermosa. Hopefully, not the warmer temperatures.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Truly Texas: Recipe for Pecan Bread

There's a lot to love about Texas. The 'southern' hospitality, mild winters and some really good food. This week in my 'Fun & Fabulous Food' class we made a very simple but truly wonderful quick bread recipe loaded with pecans. It's an old favorite recipe of my husband's family.
The class meets through Falmouth Night School which is held in the kitchen at the Middle School. After packing up from class the other night the cleaning crew stopped me and wanted to know 'what had we made that smelled so good?' I wish I'd thought at the time to throw in an extra loaf to offer them.
Quick Breads are great. They don't take much effort to prepare and their rewards are obvious.

Truly Texas: Pecan Bread

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
tsp Salt
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 C Chopped Pecans
1 C Milk
1 Egg

Combine dry ingredients. Mix egg & Milk add to dry. Gently stir in pecans. Spoon dough into greased loaf pan. Let dough set for ten minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let cool in pan for about ten minutes before releasing from pan.
There are so many ways to serve this bread. My favorite is with butter and a drizzle of honey. My son loves it with cream cheese.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This Carrot Really Takes the Cake!


The results of my test kitchen are in!
This is the cake worth eating. It has so much yummy flavor and moistness. The cream cheese frosting is delicious but seriously this cake would be good plain.
I'd been calling my carrot cake Incredible Carrot Cake but since I am updating my recipe a little I am going to call it Fabulous Carrot Cake. I serve my large cakes in white pastry boxes. It looks pretty.
If you'd like to order a carrot cake you can call or email. They sell for $24.00.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Bake Therefore I Am & Fabulous Bread

It was Rene Descartes (French Philosopher 1596-1650) who said, "I think therefore I am". His style was to doubt everything as a way "to figure out what he could know with absolute certainty". As much as I love Philosophy it is really a luxury-to have an opportunity to pause and ponder about the world. I have baking to do.
I am in test kitchen mode today. I am trying two different carrot cake recipes to see which one I like best.
The baking class I called "Fun & Fabulous Food" started last week. The students are creative, resourceful and good bakers too.
I started the class by sharing Marianne Williamson's famous quote: "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be?"
This week we will be baking a breakfast bread together. I am sure the bread will turn out fabulous.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Steele Family Chilli Recipe & Super Bowl Sunday

Neighbors have invited us over to watch the game later today. I made a batch of chilli this morning to bring with us. Chilli always tastes better when it has time to slow cook over a period of time. Here is the recipe I use:

Steele Family Chilli Recipe

2 lbs. ground beef, brown and drain
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine and let brown in beef pan just before beef is done.
1 garlic clove, minced
48 oz red kidney beans
48 oz diced tomatoes
3 cups water
2 tbsp. chilli powder
2 tbsp. red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a crockpot or large sauce pan. Simmer on low heat for at least a couple of hours. Stir occasionally.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lucid Dreams, Memories & Ta-dah!

I had the strangest dream last night. Family that I hardly see stopped by unexpectedly to bring me cheesecake! In the dream I tried a bite of each. I was also 'lucid dreaming' -where I knew at the time I was dreaming and in my dream I was 'thinking'. The thought I had in the dream was why are these people here and why did they bring me cheesecake?

Lucid dreaming refers to an awareness that you know you are in a dream. Years ago, I read a book on 'Lucid Dreaming' - I sought it out after the first time I had this type of experience.

I woke this morning recalling real time memories I have of these family members. I saw them often as a child. We went to there house for many Christmas Eve parties, birthdays and summer cookouts. I remember them always having amazing and delicious deserts. As a kid, it all looked so effortless. I just enjoyed eating them. Now I know how much labor it all took to put those treats together.

My Ta-dah for today is that I have already completed the baking tasks I set out for myself this week. I have made Lemon Cakes, Cranberry Biscotti with white Chocolate, Dreamy Island Cookies and of course the Special Valentine Heart Sugar Cookies.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Paper Tyger on 28A & Friendship Winnie the Pooh Style

There will be fresh baked heart shaped red sugar cookies for sale at the Paper Tyger in West Falmouth starting tomorrow.

The Paper Tyger is a sweet little stationary and gift items shop right on 28A next to the West Falmouth Post Office.

Do you remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh?

He said, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Valentines' Day is almost here. Remember your lover and your friends.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blizzard of '78 & Waking Creativity



























This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Blizzard of 78. I remember that storm pretty well actually. I was only nine but we got two weeks off from school and the snow drifts were at least three times the size of me. I wasn't living on the Cape then. I was in Worcester.

The Cape got a storm that started early Sunday afternoon. The kids were thrilled to have school cancelled yesterday. They slid down a hill near the house, had hot cocoa, made snowballs and towards the end of the day nearly killed each other. What in the world did my Mom do with three girls home in the middle of winter for two weeks?
Above is a picture from the window in the kitchen. The other shows our efforts to stay warm.
About creativity- I was lucky enough to go to a cool party on Saturday for a writer friends birthday. Everyone I spoke with was in the midst of some fun project. One friend told me she'd just converted her garage into a painter's studio so she could get back to painting. Another friend told me she just finished writing her novel.
A woman I hadn't seen in a while reminded me to 'give myself permission to write'. Not bad advice. It's so easy to say I'll get to other creative projects once the laundry is done or all the bills have been paid. The thing is those 'to do's' are always present.
Creative people need time to be creative. But, who among us is not creative?

I will pass on my friend's wisdom to you-give yourself permission to be creative each day if only for a little slice of your time. Write, dance, draw, sculpt, bake, create something. And have fun doing it too.
















































Saturday, January 26, 2008

Best Buy Gift Card & History of Love, Again

I have a $25.00 gift card to Best Buy sitting in my 'junk' drawer. It's been there for a while. I am waiting to use it until I have the other $1,175.00 available for a new double oven with range that I have my eye on. I guess musicians have a passion for things like speakers and surround sound. Mechanics have their eye on corvette's and mustangs. As a baker, I dream about stainless steel top of the line electric mixers and ovens. Thankfully, my cookies and cakes taste just as good with the equipment I currently use.

I am not obsessed with the novel I am reading. It just has been on my mind this week. The main character, Leo Gursky, admits that he wonders often "who will be the last person to see me alive". He got me thinking. Who will be the last person to see me alive? And have I ever been some one's last? The interesting thing is there could be people, strangers that I have met- had quick chance encounters that suddenly passed away and I was there last but didn't even know it.

I do know that I was my father's last. I was living in Dallas, TX at the time. I received a call from one of my sisters that he wasn't doing very well and basically was told he was on the verge of dying. I remember calling my husband at work and he encouraged me to at least try to hop on a plane and see if I could get there in time-to see him one last time before he died.

I called the airline and managed a flight to Boston that departed in less than two hours. My three year old was just a baby at the time. I was still nursing her. Naturally, she'd have to come with.
Somehow, I managed to arrive in Boston, got picked up by a friend, drove straight to the Hospice place he was staying at and arrived there at about 1:30 in the morning and spoke with him one brief time before he died a few short hours later.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

History of Love: Case in Point

I mentioned yesterday that I don't feel qualified to explain things relating to love. Case in point: my three year old came home from school today and proceeded to tell me that a boy that she has been friendly with for over a year now, a boy that she seems to have a little crush on even told her that he doesn't want to talk to her or play with her and he went on to tell her that he didn't want to talk with her again until Kindergarten. To her, an eternity.

She was crushed. As she told me this story she was almost in tears.

Mothers quickly become bears to protect their 'little cubs'. I guess I'm a little embarrassed to admit my response. I told her that if she wanted me to I'd come to the playground and beat him up. Of course, I retracted that right away and apologized for such an inappropriate transgression. (The look on her face said, she had no idea what I was talking about).

I then went on to explain that he probably likes her back and just doesn't quite know how to show it. I told her that I was sure some day he would most likely take a look at her and regret his earlier rejection of her.

We went into the kitchen together sliced a piece of lemon cake and laughed about him and the whole incident as we chatted about meaningless girl talk over our treat. What can I say? At least I didn't bring up "inappropriate transgression' again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Taste of Home Baking & History of Love

I found two good books at the library. My daughter loves to go to the Falmouth Library to check out books, listen in at story time or see what's in for DVD's-and she's only three.

It's a blessing really to have a place within a mile of the house that offers access to so many potential new adventures.

I managed a few minutes to sneak away to my section and I found a book called "Taste of Home Baking". I already have a handful of recipes I am looking to find the time to try.

I also picked up a novel called "History of Love". So far it's a fun book. The writer's funny and intelligent. My first thought when I saw the title was, "that's ambitious!"

The History of Love? I have to admit I have never felt as though I know very much in the way of explaining anything of or relating to love-let alone the history of it. At least the writer caught my attention with her title. The title refers to the name of a novel that one of the main characters wrote many years ago within the story.

I did find a little time to bake today too. I made mini lemon cakes and orange pound cakes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update on Chocolate Decadence Cake

I decided not to sample the chocolate cake I made and send it instead to work with my husband tomorrow. I love chocolate and I knew if I sliced into it that would be the end of most of it. It looks like it tastes pretty good. The kitchen smelled yummy.
You begin making the cake by melting semi sweet chocolate and whipping it with sugar, egg and butter. It comes out of the oven with almost a brownie like texture. The topping, of course, I had to sample that. It is cream whipped with confectioner's sugar and a little bit of vanilla.
My girls ended up slicing a banana and drenching it with the left over cream for a late night snack.

Chocolate Decadence Cake

I have a few errands to run this afternoon. One of which is to take a look at the kitchen where I will be teaching a baking class next week. I just want to have an idea of what I'll be working with. Is there a lot of counter space? Do they have good mixers? Will I need to bring my own cookie sheets?
I am calling the class "Fun & Fabulous Food". In a diet obsessed world I support eating and eating well. Food can be so fun and fabulous. When I get back home, I'll throw on my slippers, tie on my apron and head to the kitchen.
Of course, I'll have to get dinner started but there's also a recipe I have been wanting to try. It's called Chocolate Decadence Cake with Sweet Cream. I promise to log on later to announce whether I give this new recipe a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow Cake

Finally, a little snow on the Cape. There's about a half inch out there and flurries are still whirling about. I'd prefer the summer altogether but if it must be cold then show me the snow.

Snow Cake is not the name of a new creation my oven has recently concocted but rather the name of a really good movie we rented last night. I get disappointed with so many films these days. But Snow Cake was worth every minute of my time. It's a Canadian film starring Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver. The film reminds me a little bit of Crash because the lives of the characters become deeply intertwined as a result of a single tragic incident. Weaver plays an adult highly functioning autistic woman and she was brilliant in her role. The movie made me laugh and cry.

One of my favorite games is Scrabble. There's a scene in the movie where Alex (Alan) and Linda (Sigourney) play. Linda plays where you can make up a word as long as you are able to use the new word properly in a sentence. Alex is skeptical. Linda manages to provide a powerful example of the use of her made up word. You'll have to rent the movie to know more. The word earns her close to 100 points.

It's fun to be inspired by good music, books and movies. Maybe I'll make an angel food cake with white whipped cream frosting and call it 'Snow Cake'. I'm sure my kids would be happy to test it for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How to Make Lobster Shaped Sugar Cookies, Ehow & Office Parties

I've been a writer for the very large website called Ehow.com since October of last year. It gets real slow on the Cape in the winter and I try to be on the look out for new ways to bring in income. My cookies and cakes do sell you just have to be creative and think out of the box if you are going to make it here year round.

Ehow is pretty amazing. I have written twelve how to's including how to make lobster shaped sugar cookies for them. I take what I learn from life as a baker and use it in my writing. If you can imagine a topic you can probably find an article written about it on there site somewhere. I actually read a pretty funny article there over the holidays called, How Not to Get Fired at Your Holiday Office Party.

So far at West Falmouth Baking Company I am a one girl enterprise. Friends have commented that they would work for me-but at least for now I can't afford them. Therefore there was really no holiday party thus no chance for getting myself fired. But with a title like that I figured it would at least be good for a laugh. And actually the day I read the article I did attend my husband's holiday party and I made sure to keep the writer's advice in mind.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Calm after the Storm & For the Love of Citrus




















The beach is always so inviting after a storm. The top two pictures are from along the entrance of South Cape Beach. We got a milder side of the storm. We didn't have any school closings and hardly any snowfall on the ground. But 'my' driftwood had been moved along the shore by at least one hundred feet.
I have an Orange Pound Cake in the oven. I drizzle it with a fresh orange glaze. I promised my daughter I would make her a treat today.
I wish I could grow my own citrus. I am in love with lemons, limes and oranges-anything citrusy really. When I lived in Los Angeles, lemon trees would grow right in the back yard!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Simple Steps

It was Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching who wrote, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" over twenty-five centuries ago. If I am about to try a new recipe that at first looks complex I know (from experience) that if I follow the steps one by one I will end up with a finished product like the one I set out to create. The first step leads to the second and so on and so forth.

Sometimes if I don't know which is the next best action to take in my baking business, with my children, with friends or other family I can remember Lao-Tzu's wisdom. I can't figure out a problem or something that is bothering me by trying to cut to the end. I have to walk through whatever is right in front of me by taking simple steps-one at a time. As the ancient wisdom suggests little steps eventually become big steps.

I am happy that today is Saturday. It's a fairly nice day. There are a few clouds and it's already forty five degrees. I did a lot of baking yesterday afternoon so for now I am free of my kitchen. Well accept for the pile of dishes that are left over from breakfast. I suppose I can take care of those by taking a first simple step.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

In Search of a Really Good Cookie

What makes a cookie good? My favorite cookie is over sized Chocolate Chip.
It's a cookie that's neither too chewy or too crunchy.
It's a cookie with a smooth texture, just the right amount of chocolate and a touch of peanut butter in the dough. They are big too. I use a 1/4 measuring cup to spoon the cookies onto the cookie sheet. Sometimes, I feel a little guilty when I finish even one.
It's been rainy and windy today and I have had my oven on for an order of Lemon Cakes that I'm filling. I am going to throw a batch of Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies in while it's still hot.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Choices

I went on a long awesome walk today. We had unusually warm temperatures for a Cape Winter day. It almost reached sixty and the sun was bright all day.

I decided when I started this blog that I would keep my comments tailored to baking specifically and the positive side of life in general. I have always been a believer in the importance of complaining less and living more. Life is relatively short and that approach simply makes sense to me.

Although on my walk today, I couldn't help but feel a deep sadness for the woman who was recently killed while hiking alone. It's not the first story like this, sadly it's probably not the last. It makes me so disappointed, especially that I am raising two daughters that a man could feel so worthless in his own life that he could harm a woman in such a cowardly way.

I was reminded on my walk today how when I was eighteen or so I would think nothing of taking a long walk alone. I trusted the world. I so wanted it to be a safe place. Women should be able to move freely in the world without fear of harm to them.

So, I suppose I won't bring up the subject about the safety of women in the world. I will choose instead to celebrate the life of all women and the strength and power that we hold. I said a simple prayer for the unfortunate circumstances of that woman on my walk today. I also decided that I refuse to stop taking walks out of potential fear.