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 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


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.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Driftwood at South Cape Beach & Recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones

To some this is a beach nuisance. To me all I can see is potential. It's a huge piece of driftwood that has washed up on the shore at South Cape Beach. It has been there for over two weeks and it is starting to dig itself into the sand. I want it but as it stands I haven't rallied enough people to help me carry it off the beach back to my house. Anyone own a crane?

I want to cut it into two pieces and use as a table base. I would save it for the Bakery I plan to build someday. One of those distant days in the future where I will have a much larger commercial kitchen to bake all my treats in than the quaint little home kitchen I now use. After a trip to the beach on a winter day, tea and scones are always a great way to thaw out. Recipe follows.

Cranberry Orange Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon milk or evaporated milk
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cranberries, walnuts or pecans, and grated orange. Mix buttermilk in with a fork just until dry ingredients are moistened.
On a floured surface, roll or pat dough out into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Cut into rounds with a 2 1/2-inch cutter. Place rounds on a large greased baking sheet, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Brush with milk or evaporated milk. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle a little of the mixture over each scone. (Another way to roll out dough is to pat into a greased pie dish and press to the edges. Cut eight slits around dough but not cut through).
Preheat oven to 400°. Place scones on lower oven rack. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with jam and hot tea.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Road Trip & Oven's Turned off Today

We are heading off Cape today. We travel over the Bourne Bridge to get on 495 to head up to Central MA. Sometimes when I'm on the Cape I feel like I've been in this private world and when I go over the bridge it's as if I re-enter an old forgotten 'civilization'.
A road trip with a family of five can get a little dicey at times. 'Are we there yet?' 'I have to pee'. 'I'm hungry'.
We're going to a family party in Brookfield. I will probably see people today that I haven't seen in quite a while.
I wish I could say that we are staying for three days in a quaint B&B to explore all the fun places up there either somewhere in Metro West or Central MA.
The truth is my kids have Basketball games early Sunday so I will probably have to head back over the bridge some time before days end.
Before we get on the road I will make sure my oven is turned off for today.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Punch Bowl in Beebe Woods & Chocolate Chip Scones

Today is a really cold day for a good walk. The temperature gauge read seven degrees when I poured my coffee this morning.
By the time I was ready for a walk it reached about 17 degrees. With three kids, a husband and two part time jobs (baking and writing) I have to take my walks when I can get them.
You can get to this pond by entering Beebe Woods and following the trail behind the Cape Cod Conservatory in Falmouth. It's a wooded path which leads to a spot called the Punch Bowl.
My kids love to head here in the summer to go for a swim with friends.
I am in the middle of making about 4o packages of sugar cookie party favors for an event this weekend. I decided since I had to have my oven on for the day I would also throw in my favorite recipe for chocolate chip scones to send with my husband for work tomorrow. The scones are super light and fluffy. They're topped with a bit of sugar and made with heavy cream and bits of semi sweet chocolate.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

'Wonder Woman' & Cocoa Cake Recipe

Remember this character from Wonder Woman?
I liked her because she could be strong, smart and sexy.
I bet she could even whip up a mean chocolate cake.

You go girl!


Cocoa Devil's Food Cake

Combine, beat until well blended and set aside:
1 c sugar
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 c buttermilk (or yogurt)
Beat until soft:
1/2 c butter
add gradually and cream until light:
1 c sifted sugar
Beat in, one at a time:
2 eggs
Beat in cocoa mixture. Sift before measuring:
2 c cake flour
re-sift with:
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Add flour in three parts to the butter mixture alternately with:
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Beat batter after each addition just until smooth. Grease tube pan and sprinkle sugar mixture over bottom. Bake cake about 1 hour in a preheated 350 degree oven. It may be baked in 2 layers for about 35 minutes. Spread cake with a white or chocolate icing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Deaths & Births

We didn't get any snow on the Cape. I look out the window and there's a bit of frost on the neighbor's bushes and my grass is wet but not even the slightest sign of snow. There are two squirrels hard at play. The rest of the State got plenty of snow this week. It has something to do with living so close to the ocean that leaves us with the milder side of the eye of many storms.

Besides the first day of a new year, it also happens to be my oldest child's thirteenth birthday. I remember so clearly the night he was born. He was big and healthy and absolutely beautiful.

When he was born it was the first day of the year 1995. My Nana had just passed away on the night of Halloween a few months before his birth. My Husband's Step Father and his Mom were about to visit from Dallas. My Husband's Step Dad passed away before my son even turned six months. I have only one memory of them together.

The baby was only a week old and my Husband's Step Dad was sitting on our couch in the living room with his glasses white hair and a beard holding the baby. I remember watching my son try to focus on what was in front of him. I remember feeling as though they had just made a connection.

When my son was three weeks old we went into Boston to share the new baby with my Dad. My Dad was thrilled to be a grandfather. They too made a special connection that day. My Dad passed away three years ago this February. It's hard to lose family and other people you love. A new year often brings this home more clearly to me than other times of the year.

I wish my Nana, my Husband's Step Dad and my Dad could still be a part of my children's life. They had so much to share with them.

It's a day for celebrations and new beginnings. He's going to invite a few friends over today to play basketball, watch highlights from a college basketball DVD and do what most thirteen year old boys do--eat lots of food.

We had grilled blueberry bagels with cream cheese and sausage for breakfast. Later today I will put a ham in the oven. I am also going to make another Chocolate Crown Cake because he didn't get to eat any of the last one and you just have to have some cake on your birthday.