27 March 2011
Sierra has been wanting to make a cake for a week. No particular reason. Well, if sugar counts as a reason, then yeah, one particular reason. So after searching for just the right flavor and recipe, she came upon a Lemon Cake recipe that looked pretty tasty.
We didn't realize that it also happened to be Gluten Free until we were really concentrating on writing down the ingredients for the shopping list. One would think it would be difficult to find brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, guar gum, and maybe even lemon extract. But guess what? Whole Foods has every single one of these items in one aisle!
So with our ingredients in hand, Sierra began the cake making process. First the cake part - pretty straightforward - mix a bunch of stuff together, pour in a pan, and bake. One ingredient we somehow overlooked was canola oil. I always have coconut oil on hand, so I got it out, heated it just enough to bring it to liquid state, then gave it to Sierra to add to a milk/lemon zest mixture she needed to do before incorporating into the cake batter. Guess what happens when you mix coconut oil with cold milk? Uh huh. Back to solid. Oh well, warmed the mixture again back to liquid and had no problems after that.
Next was the lemon curd. This was where she used the guar gum. Very easy and it thickened up really nicely.
So we split the two cake layers in half and basically made lemon curd sandwiches of them before putting them back together for frosting. This is the only part I was allowed to do because she didn't trust herself to split the cakes horizontally.
Finally, there was frosting to be made. I cannot believe it has taken me all these years to realize it - but I only learned about a month ago that you can make your own powdered sugar by putting granulated sugar in a powerful enough blender. What a money saver. So she made some powdered sugar, added it to butter, lemon, lemon extract, and lemon zest and that was the frosting. Oh, 1 1/2 times the recipe of course, for decorating purposes.
It was time for the base level of frosting.
But just a simple layer of frosting isn't too exciting, now is it? So you need some whoop-te-doos and piping and whatnot, and of course some sprinkles, because what is a cake without sprinkles? Wait...I wonder if the sprinkles un-gluten-freed the cake!?! Hmmmm.
And the finished cake with the baker.
And finally, the cake after cutting. It always gets dark outside when I'm trying to photograph food and you just can't see the layers as well as I'd like - but they're there, believe me.
UPDATE: Daytime photo of the yummy layers
I told Sierra this and I don't think she truly believes me...but this is the best cake I have ever eaten. I cannot explain exactly why - of course it was made with love, and it's flavors that I adore, etc. - but the flavors shine through with the exact right amount of sweet, moist, and flavorful: not too much or too little of anything.
I would say that you could potentially double the lemon curd recipe if you really like lemon curd....I thought we really weren't going to be able to taste it at all because it's a pretty thin layer, but surprisingly it held up really well and you could definitely taste it.
If you'd like to try it yourself, you can go to the Lemon Layer Cake recipe at Epicurious. It's from the November, 2005 Gourmet, which, like any good packrat, I have in my "November section" of my food magazine racks.
And yes, I did call this The DAY of the Lemon Cake for a reason. What was supposed to be a 2-hour-total-time cake recipe somehow took around 5 hours. Oh well, that's okay. It was worth it.
09 April 2010
30 March 2010
01 February 2010
Check out the new video from Judgement Day, a local "string metal" band made up of guys playing violin, cello and drums. The strings players happen to be the sons of Sierra's violin teacher, and they were nice enough to ask her to be part of the video. Click here for some behind-the-scenes info.
You'll see Sierra at 1:49; 2:02; 2:19; 2:28; 2:31; 2:41; and 2:47. It's fast, so pay attention!
10 November 2009
It's that time of year again folks. Cough/cold/nasty what the heck is that person hacking up time. We go through bags and bags and bags of Ricola. The only person who is a bigger baby about having a sore throat than me is Sierra. Way bigger. Where'd she get that from? So I thought...hmmm...how hard can it be to make these things? Turns out not hard at all. You just have to approach it like I try to approach sewing - NO FEAR.
So I researched (you know...I googled it) recipes, formulas and herbs and settled in on one recipe. All properties described are internet-retrieved, so you choose whether to believe the purported properties of the herbs. However, I will say that my brain believed them as I sucked on the finished product.
Here's the recipe:
1 cup dried herbs (see here for herb guide). Mix and match according to your preference
3 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups brown sugar or same amount of honey [see note about honey]
2 teaspoons peppermint extract if desired (may not go with honey?!)
First you will want to steep the dried herbs in the tea. Steep for about 30 minutes or so. Strain well using a tea press or cheesecloth.
Next add brown sugar or honey over medium heat and bring to a boil slowly. Be sure to keep stirring constantly. When the brown sugar or honey herbs mixture reaches 290 to 300 degrees and pulls apart in threads it is done.
At this point remove from heat and add the peppermint extract if desired. You can then proceed to pull the mixture like taffy and make little balls. Or the easiest and fastest thing to do is spread over a cookie sheet. I tried putting them in a loaf pan (I made a 1/2 recipe) and scoring them. When the herbal mixture it hardens you can then break into pieces. Use wax paper to store them.
[Note about honey - These tasted great but after a couple of weeks in a container began to draw in moisture and try to become liquid again. Still edible....just had to twist a piece off. Someone suggested putting one of those little silicon(e)? packets inside the container to prevent this which I think I'll try next time]
The herbs were easy to find. Whole Foods was my first stop and they had everything but horehound. However, next time I'll just go to Lhasa K to get everything, which is where I found the horehound.
Horehound has been used for decades for coughs and bronchial upsets. It is a great herb for breaking up congestion. It contains murubiin which stimulates bronchial secretions.
Mullein is an herb that will help soothe the bronchial and lungs. It is extremely gentle and effective. It will help ease coughs.
This herb is used to help relieve inflammation of the bronchial.
So you make up this big pan of tea and then do the straining:
The tea comes out looking like this:
Then, put it back in a pan with the brown sugar or honey.
Pour it in a pan (for a 1/2 recipe I used a loaf pan)....next time I'll probably line the pan with wax paper and butter it, for easier removal.If you decide to pour it on a cookie sheet you're done. You'll simply break it up like brittle when it's ready. But if you use a pan like I did (thinking I could make the shape of the original herbal flavor Ricolas) you need to score the cough drops...unless you're a hard candy expert and know how to quickly and efficiently pull and shape the taffy-like candy into little balls. That's not me so I'm scoring. The challenge is that you have to score when it's not too hot and not too cool. I would run my small, sharp knife through a little butter, then dip the tip in and draw a line. Sometimes I'd start at the edges and do the edges all the way around, then wait as the middle cooled a bit more a go back in a little at a time. When it's too hot the candy sticks to the knife - too cool, you won't be able to score it at all.
Sounds hard but it's not. Although I do want to look into getting hard candy molds so I can make nice little round balls without the taffy-pulling part. Good luck!
26 July 2009
I also made these end tables, inspired by a french pigeon basket coffee table I saw (for $1200!), and I love them with the loveseat and chair.
Also note the hanging lanterns purchased a separate time from Ohmega, as well as the wall lantern, for which I am still looking for a mate.
OK, now to the part where I need some help/ideas/suggestions. Here is my latest Ohmega Salvage purchase:
16 July 2009
15 May 2009
15 March 2009
This was custom-made for a boy by his dad. The boy is now off to college.....and we get the benefit of being the second owner. This guy knew what he was doing....the craftsmanship is beautiful. By the way, he's moved on from woodworking....currently he's building an airplane in his garage....not a model airplane.....an actual airplane. We got to see the wings portion...very cool. Anyway, we paid way way way way way less than other beds that are out there - and they gave Ryan a deal because he was paying for it with his own money. It has 6 drawers - which then meant we could get rid of the huge dresser in his room as well....hooray! And the other side has a bookshelf - which meant we could get rid of a book shelf in his room....and mom and dad gained a bookshelf in their room....double hooray! So then, a small desk was needed. And where did I turn? CL natch. And in the small world category, the desk I found (which is identical to the one we already own in our office but in a different color) was being sold by a woman in my book club who then lowered the price by $10 when she found out it was me. So a desk that we paid around $200ish for a few years ago, I picked up for $70. Oh, and that drum stool under the desk? That was a bonus stool from the drum set Ryan bought off CL last year.....for some reason the kid had two drum stools (which we didn't originally know) so it's the purchase that keeps on giving.
08 February 2009
Here is another picture for you.
I'm not sure who the subject is....however I do know that there is no loss of self-esteem in Sierra right now. And her stream-of-consciousness writing.....well, does it remind you of anyone?
19 January 2009
18 January 2009
I've started an Inauguration Scrapbook blog. I don't know why I do this to myself...but I figure if I can start to put it all in one place online, then when I finally do a real scrapbook, I'll have somewhere to start......it's the first item under Links to the right. Enjoy!
12 January 2009
Ah, the power of the free. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Craig's List. I love the buying, I love the selling, I love the friendships I've made (oh yeah....really) and I love the best book ever about the sheer power of it - One Red Paperclip - who the heck can beat trading a red paperclip for a house? And now apparently he's looking to trade the house! I don't peruse CL for free stuff normally, however, because it's too time-consuming, and frankly, anything good goes within about a second. Even the for sale stuff goes with lightening speed. I've been looking to purchase a small desk for Ryan's room for a couple of months, and the 3 or 4 I've replied to were within hours of posting and I missed out on all of them. When we bought Ryan's drum set I had vowed to sit in front of the computer one Sunday morning and just keep hitting refresh on my "drum kit" search and guess what? The seller was shocked that I responded within 20 minutes of their post....and it takes CL at least 10 minutes to get it up there after you list it! But if you really really really want something, that's what you need to do.
However, when you're not in the market for something in particular, that's when free and happened-upon is the best ever. I have two very recent examples. First, Sierra and I were hiking back down from the ridge above our house along the streets, and lo and behold someone had set out bunches of free stuff. The usual suspects....old lamps, chairs, furniture, children's stuff.....and this true treasure - Mancala.
Look at the beautiful glass pieces. Sierra was beside herself with joy....she has wanted a Mancala game for a couple of years but it's one of those things that we just forget about at gift-giving times because it's not the big, showy thing. We brought it home, cleaned it up (although not much cleaning seemed to be required) and now she literally plays it at least three times a week....often by herself. In fact, we had a few guests over recently and one little girl's mom set out to find her - and happened on her all alone in Sierra's room happily playing by herself. There's something mystical about it somehow because I often find Sierra doing the same thing.
And the next free treasure? It's what the Mancala is sitting on. Stressed about cleaning my house up for same said guest get-together, I was really thinking about how to have our games in a really accessible place that didn't look too cluttery. A bookshelf would be good, but not a likely candidate for long-term because one day I vow to truly have a "put-together" living room, and this would not be included in that plan. As I was off to do some last minute errands that day, I drove to the end of the street and - AHA! - saw some furniture left out with the always-exciting FREE STUFF sign. I was on my way out so I called home and asked Scott to go to the end of the street and check it out. When I returned, both he AND both kids reported that none of it was any good. I said, "hmph, y'all don't know what you're talking about" and stomped to the bottom of the street (which can only happen if you live on hilly streets). Ryan decided to come with....probably to watch what it looks like when a crazy lady inspects free stuff....and the minute I saw this bookshelf I knew it was perfect. Again Ryan tried to talk me out of it...."it's paint is peeling"...."Sierra didn't like the color" (and by the way - where did I get this daughter who shuns most colorful stuff in favor of restrained, earthy tones - it's almost worse than discovering I'm raising a republican)...."blah, blah, blah." "Yeah, yeah - help me carry it home." So up the hill we went carrying this thing and then I got to show Ryan the magic of a power sander. "Look!" "Watch this!" "Magic!" And there it was.....a bright, beautiful, appropriately-brightly-hued-to-highlight-a-fun-game-collection shelf. Bring it inside, place it with care, line the top with Ipus homemade by me and Sierra, and now we're happy.
Is it stately? Well-appointed? Heck no. Does it represent me and my personality? Heck yeah. And it doesn't overwhelm the room too much, as evidenced by the above photo. And you know I had these pillows WAAAY before I got the bookshelf.....the whole beige-on-carribean-blue thing works kind of well, yes? I think Ryan's now a convert (power tools go a long way in making something cool to him). Sierra? Well, who cares - she can be in charge of her own room.
01 January 2009
• Musical Selections: The United States Marine Band, followed by the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Obviously this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and honor. It is also so much richer because Ryan was the most fervant Obama supporter in a household full of Obama supporters. He's the kid who yelled at the tv during the Republican convention when McCain spoke ill of Obama's remarks...."THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID!" The kid who whole-heartedly believes in Obama and his plans and hope for our future. And the kid who, when asked how he would feel if McCain had won and he was given the opportunity to sing for his inauguration, said "I would feel honored to sing for the President of the United States...no matter who it was." Such a pro.
Ryan will turn 10 twelve days before he sings in Washington, DC. I can't think of a better way for him to usher in his 10th year.