Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Melted Chocolate, Fresh Whipped Cream & Keeping things Slow & Simple!

I took this picture from the edge of Seconnsett Island, Mashpee on Sunday. The sun was setting to the right. The light allowed the clouds to reflect off the water in a very sweet way. It was a very peaceful twilight. Later that night I made a baked and breaded chicken Parmesan topped with mozzarella and fresh baked garlic bread for dinner. Then for dessert I served the butterfly cake. Honestly, I hated to cut into it (just because it looked so cute) but I did because the kids' wanted to dig in the moment it came out of the oven. I served large slices of the cake with warm melted chocolate, fresh whipped cream and plump strawberries. I heard lots of yum's and mmm's with mouths filled with cake. I took that to mean they enjoyed it. The arrival of Spring on Cape Cod always feels like a tease. I knew this when I wrote the previous post. However, I was trying to hold the vision of that day: warmer temps, sunny skies and all day spent outdoors! However, I saw snow flakes both Monday and today. Go figure! As for keeping it slow and simple, I've been applying that easy mantra to many things lately. I think it's appropriate for where I'm at. I've been in the same relationship for twenty years now and for almost a month now I'm on my own. It will simply take me a little time to further adjust. So yes, I think keeping things slow and simple is a good plan at least for now.

Whether I'm baking a cake, enjoying the beauty around me or whipping fresh cream-- I do it because they are each simple enough...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Signs of Spring & Butterfly Cake!

The early mist had vanished and the fields lay like a silver shield under the sun. It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring. ~ Edith Wharton

After a long winter I always look forward to the signs of spring:

*It's been lighter later and the kids love having more time in the evening outdoors.
*On walks around the neighborhood I've noticed the dailies slowly coming out of the ground.
*The robins are back and I filled our bird feeders with seed.
*I planted basil & tomato seeds then put them into the kitchen window box for early planting.

To greet the first day of Spring's arrival, I made an adorable butterfly cake first thing this morning to serve to company that's coming for dinner tomorrow. It's a butter cake dipped in chocolate.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Surprise & More Good Karma Through Cookies!

Here's a fun recipe for a cookie I call Surprise Cookies. It's included in Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen.

I made them recently for my older daughter to share with her class. They look like a regular sugar cookie until you bite into one and Surprise-you get the sweet taste of lemonade!

If you're home baking this weekend give this a try.

I love to bake cookies and then share them with others, it's good karma! People really do love it when you bake for them.

Surprise Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 can frozen lemonade, concentrate, thawed, divided
additional sugar

1) In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2) Combine flour and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with 1/3 cup of lemonade concentrate, beating well after each addition.
3) Drop by rounded, tsp. 2 in. apart on cookie sheet.
4) Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
5) While cooling brush with the additional lemonade concentrate and sprinkle with sugar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweeter by the Beach, A Note about the Ganache & Facebook!

When I self-published "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" the whole experience was a fun and learn as you go kind of adventure. I wrote it because while caring for a house, three kids and a teaching job I've never quite been able to fill as many baking orders as I'd like to. Soon I'll have to decide if I'm going to re-print copies of "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" as I'm close to the end of my current inventory.

In the meantime, I've been working on a second longer work that I'm calling
Sweeter by the Beach. It's a book about food and family inspired by life on Cape Cod.

As for the food it's about family favorites, special summer drinks and Cape inspired party foods. And, as for raising a family here, if you can survive a winter the rest can be amazing. And, I've always secretly feared that if Tommy and I weren't together my kids would no longer have a family. Yet now that this has become a reality, I realize my kids will always have a family even if it doesn't look exactly like I'd hoped it would.

As for the Ganache recipe I shared I want to point out that it goes a long way. The recipe I made covered not only the Coconut Pound Cake I described but also a Two Layer Chocolate Decadence Cake with plenty left over for the girls to taste.

As for Facebook, I've been slow to consider adding my blog there. Not because I don't value it as a good place to make friends and connect with fellow foodies but rather I tend to be a shy writer even though I've been a freelance writer for years.

However, since I've decided to begin this second book I thought a Fan Page might be a good way to gather support and feedback for my next writing endeavor.

I hope those of you who look for me here will also look for and then like Sweeter by the Beach on Facebook. And in the meantime, Happy Baking!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dealing with Loss, Coconut Pound Cake with Ganache & New Beginnings!

I've been thinking a lot about Rilke's wisdom this week and trying to 'love the questions themselves' and hoping that I will 'some day far in the future live into [my] answer'.
I remember the very first time I saw Tommy. He was tan with long curly blond hair and he had the most beautiful shade of blue eyes I'd ever seen (lucky for me years later my three amazing children have been blessed with the same beautiful shade of blue).
When I met him, I'd just arrived in Hermosa Beach, CA. I was turning 21 the following day. My plan was to transfer from a Boston College to UCLA that next year. We dated for years and married in October, 1995.
This week Tommy moved out. It's been a long road to reach this decision. A year ago we agreed on a temporary separation for a three month period and I was so certain that things would come back together, that we just needed a break, that I barely even told anyone.
Partly because I value family so much it mattered to me to try every option possible. However, this separation feels more permanent because I sense a lightness in the house now that hasn't been there for awhile.
My heart is sad because dealing with a loss of any kind is hard. And, letting people know isn't easy and yet it's the right thing to do. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable and yet at some point we all do.
Relationships are complex. People change and grow in unexpected ways. Forgiveness and healing from past hurts take time and don't always happen the way we want them to. Love between two people isn't always enough to make things work even when we hope it will be.
And, I wonder now that we've decided to go our separate ways can we rediscover a friendship with one another something that's been missing for awhile now? Will we learn how to share in the joy of the most beautiful and amazing children despite the loss? For today all I can do is "love the questions themselves".

My Friends have always been such an important part of my life and they've offered such wonderful words of wisdom recently that I want to share them here in case they might feel helpful to you: "when one door closes another opens", "everything happens for a reason, right"?, "you can make the future look exactly like you want it to-a blank canvas so to speak" and my personal favorite from a close friend who said "you will be OK, because you are a beautiful person inside and out".

In the meantime, I decided to bake something because it always adds a bit of fun to an otherwise ordinary day. I made a Coconut Pound Cake that I topped with Chocoalte Ganache. The kids enjoyed it so much that it disappeared instantly.

In case you want to do some baking too the Coconut Pound Cake recipe is included in "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" and as for the Ganache, it's easy to make. Ganache is a fancy way to say mixed chocolate with heavy cream and it's so good.

As for new beginnings, I filled a cake order this week for a girl who turned 21 and it reminded me of my younger self in CA all those years ago when I'd first met Tommy and how much possibility life holds for us all when we're still so young. And also, signing my youngest up for Spring Baseball so she has something new to try.

How to Make Ganache

3Tbsp. corn syrup
6 Oz. heavy cream
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan add the corn syrup and the heavy cream, combine. Bring to a simmer and add the chocolate. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool slightly. Drizzle on the Coconut Pound Cake. Be careful, disappears quickly.