Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chocolate Sin

I should mention that we have an upcoming wedding in our family. I'll share photos of the happy couple another time, but for now, we have "the kids" (I'm not sure how much longer I can get away with calling them that) for another week before they fly back to college. The engagement was official Christmas day and winter break turned into a madhouse wedding planning event.

In determining what things were important to them to include in the festivities, a particular cake came up. Apparently it's the specialty of a staff member at their very small university in the middle of the woods, and the gentleman has graciously shared it with the rest of the world.

So we did a test cake to see how it would fly as a wedding cake. I made it last night, let it cool on a plate under a cover as instructed, frosted it this morning and it's all gone tonight. Seriously.

You've seen the photo. Here's the link. A couple of notes in case you're compelled to join me needing a bean cake support group . . .

1. Don't use vegetable oil. Mr. Gaugler apparently doesn't know that cooking with vegetable oil is VERY unhealthy. I used canola and "the kids" couldn't tell the difference in taste.

2. My texture was heavier than what they were used to. Could be the oil, could be that I used bread flour. Could be both. But then again, it didn't affect the taste.

3. If you make fresh strong coffee, make sure it's cooled sufficiently not to cook your eggs when you combine the liquids. No - I didn't cook the eggs doing that. I just thought it worthwhile to mention.

4. Next time - 50% more frosting/icing.

5. I'm in love with egg meringue powder. First time I've used it.

The unfortunate thing about this (besides none of us restraining ourselves "testing" it) is that *sigh* I have to make it again. This time was to test the recipe and it passed. Next time I have to test what type pan it will cook ok in. What a sacrifice. I guess we'll just have to suffer through it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater . . .

2010 was the Year of the Pumpkin at my house. After rescuing a half dozen huge "pig pumpkins" (slightly blemished pumpkins destined to feed a farmer's pigs) and canning a LOT of pumpkin, I realized that I really liked having pumpkins around the house for color and general ambience. Here in the deep south (LA as in lower Alabama to be specific) pumpkins don't grow well, don't keep outside very long due to our humidity, and generally have to be trucked in.

Thanks to a hand me down craft magazine, I found wonderful instructions for creating handmade pumpkins out of fabric - recycled fabric to be specific. The photo shows what I was able to make out of one fleece hoodie (left by one of the kids friends how many years ago) and one lined linen dress ($1 at the thrift store). I had them out maybe ten days before it was time to decorate for Christmas. The good part - I'll have pumpkins for years!

2011 will the the Year of the Funky Pumpkin. Our holiday thrift store visits while in South Carolina yielded a fun assortment of plaids, polka dots, stripes and prints. I can't possibly use all the pumpkins it will yield and will be making them available on as I get them made.

So stay tuned . . . . !

Monday, January 3, 2011


Maybe it's just a touch of schizophrenia that I decided to split my recycling/vintage/handmade/crazy farm woman identity from my Prima donna beekeeper identity, but for the sake of sanity, that's what this blog accomplishes. No apis millifera or hive configuration here. This is another kind of good stuff.

And to start things off on a good note, I want to pay homage to Little Ma (Florence Hendon Warren), MeMaw (Alpha Omega Warren Heard) and Momma (Francis Heard New), three great ladies to whom I love and owe so much. Without them I would have never learned to think, to learn, to love doing things myself and appreciating the past in the present. They taught me love, life, scripture, music, laughter, all the things that make up running a home: cooking, canning, sewing, gardening, etc. Their homes were handmade, from the flour sack church clothes for the children to the recycled clothing made into quits that kept the family warm. They were common sense, no nonsense kind of women and I am so thankful for each of them.

Today, I posted fire starters on Etsy. Thanks Mom for telling me about these! In in case anyone is game to make their own here are instructions:

1. Collect dryer lint - LOTS of it.
2. Stuff it in the scoops of a 2.5 dozen paper egg crate.
3. Pour melted wax from old candles, tarts, etc over it.
4. Let it harden
5. Cut or tear in pieces and use 1-3 to start a fire.

TA-DA! There you go! Trash to treasure - something useful from something destined for the landfill. You just can't get much greener than that.