Saturday, December 29, 2007


When I was frosting my "HO's" for Christmas I took a couple of the darker cookies and experimented a little with them. I was going for a candy cane look. However I didn't get it right; the frosting was too stiff and the bottle I was using to apply wasn't right. It should have had a broader tip. But this wasn't all for naught. This would be perfect for creating American flag cookies. So I need to keep this in mind the next time I'm in need for a patriotic or American cookie.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almond Torte

We celebrated Christmas with my family early this year. Thanksgiving was with my parents in Wisconsin and Christmas is in Michigan with Lorrie's parents. So that meant an early exchange of gifts which actually really made this year quite easy as far as the whole Christmas rush goes. We were done by the time others were just starting.

I brought the dessert for the Thanksgiving meal and one of the things I made was this almond torte. It is based on a family recipe; one that is hugely popular. I've made tortes before but not like this. My favorite dessert was chocolate torte but that was pudding based and had cream cheese in it. This had neither. It was custard based and so delicious. The almond flavor was present but not overpowering and this was very creamy. It actually tasted a lot like a blitz torte only without sponge cake in it.

I am submitting this as my best recipe of 2007 mainly because this is my new favorite dessert! The best of 2007 is being put on by Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte and Sandra from Un tocco di of 2007 By the way, since this is 'roughly' a Christmas post, check Zorra's advent calenders.

Almond Torte

1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c flour
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c chopped almonds.

Mix & pat in l0 x l4 pan. Bake at 325 °F for l0 to l5 min until light brown.

1-1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
5 eggs separated
1/4 cup sliced almonds + enough to sprinkle across top just before serving
1/4 tsp salt
2 T corn starch
1-1/2 T Knox gelatin
1/4 c cold water
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Combine milk, l c. sugar, & egg yolks in double boiler & beat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt and cornstarch & cook until thick. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 c. cold water & add to cooked mixture. Cool. Add almond extract. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, & sugar. Fold into cooled filling and sliced almonds. Pour onto cooled crust & refrigerate 6 hours. Best if served within 24 hours.

Top with whip cream and sliced almonds (I beat 1 pint of heavy cream and this was enough to cover the whole thing sufficiently).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Menu for Hope IV

For the fourth year running Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim is organizing the food bloggers to raise money for a worthy cause. Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry in 2006. This year Menu for Hope is working in conjunction again with the UN World Food Programme to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.

This program was selected because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive but it also keeps them in school, learning skills to feed themselves in the future. It's also a model program in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

Full detail is available on Chez Pim.

Here's How to Participate in A Menu for Hope

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from the Menu for Hope at Chez Pim.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form. You must write in how many tickets per prize, and use the prize code. (Each $10 you donate will buy one raffle ticket toward any prize. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02.)

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so they could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow them to see your email address so that they can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone. Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday Jaunary 9 for the results of the raffle.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cashew Creme Pear Tart from My Sweet Vegan

This past week I had the pleasure of going through one of the first copies of Hannah Kaminsky's new cookbook My Sweet Vegan and it really is impressive. I knew there would be great recipes in it but what surprised me was how complete of a cookbook it is. This book not only had a large number of different recipes but it is a good information source for cooking vegan (and allergy-free, gluten-free, etc.), especially for someone new to vegan cooking such as myself.

My Sweet Vegan starts with a brief introduction into Hannah's journey into vegan baking and then an overview of some of the special ingredients and tools she uses. I found the ingredient guide helpful because some of the recipes called for ingredients I'd never used or purchased before. It also helped me look at the ingredients from a vegan's perspective. Case in point, margarine. I thought margarine was non-dairy. Not true, brands like Imperial and Land O Lakes contain whey and buttermilk respectively. I only looked based on Hannah's advice.

My Sweet Vegan is broken into five chapters: Sweet Starts, Cookies and Bars, Cakes and Cupcakes, Pies and Tarts, and Miscellaneous Morsals and Desserts. The majority of recipes fall into the Cookies and Bars and Cakes and Cupcakes chapters. Each recipe has a little caption where Hannah talks about the item in the recipe and a large, full-color photo. As far as cookbooks go, I'm more likely to pick a new recipe if there is a picture because either the picture will appeal to me or the picture gives me an idea of how the recipe should turn out. I was also impressed by the large variety of recipes. Some books give you a chapter on something like pies and then give you basically the same pie with different fillings. The recipes presented by My Sweet Vegan varied quite a bit. Old standards like banana nut muffins, black & white cookies, Whoopie pies, and pumpkin pecan pie share the pages with pink lemonade tartlets, root beer float cupcakes, graham flour fig scones, and green tea tiramisu.

My Sweet Vegan ends with a food allergy index and an ingredient index. The food allergy index is a brilliant idea, making it very easy choose a recipe for my food allergy challenged friends without having to go through the ingredients list of each recipe.

The first recipe I tried was the Cashew Creme Pear Tart, which I selected mainly because of the picture. I was able to find almost all of the ingredients in my local supermarket, which isn't very fancy and definitely not the source for hard to find items. The only thing I couldn't find there was the brown rice syrup, hence the use of corn syrup as a substitute. I also made 6 (should have been 7) small tarts out of this recipe instead of one big one. As you can see below, the instructions were straightforward and simple to follow and this tart was a breeze to make, especially if you use the cashew butter like I did. I really like how the pear and the cashew creme tasted together and the crust was very similar to a sugar cookie. This definitely would be a good sweet ending to any meal.

Overall, I really like My Sweet Vegan and even though I'm not vegan, I can see making recipes out of this book for a long time to come.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

She Said Yes!

I proposed to Lorrie this weekend and she said yes!

Her birthday was on Friday and for it I gave her this scrapbook page with the proposal. I put it inside a frame so one, she really had to guess what her birthday gift was and two, she could then display it. The background is a page that contains various love quotes and the flowers are ribbon roses.

I had here open the card first and there was a little 'Yes' sticker glued inside. She asked why it was there and I just told her it was part of her gift.

The idea was she could give her answer by placing the sticker on the page.

I did not provide a 'No' sticker and we didn't need it.

We're engaged!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cheese Making Workshop, Part Three

While the cheese making was fun, my favorite part was actually milking the goats. Everybody got a chance to milk Co Co.

Co Co stands on the milking stand and is held in place by the stanchion.

This was the end result, raw goat milk.

Everybody got a chance to try it - and everybody did. To my knowledge, they are all still alive too. Many were apprehensive about trying it but they soon realized that was just silly because it tasted delicious. I'm not a milk expert; I rarely drink it (intolerance). To me it tasted like warm, whole milk. Quite good!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cheese Making Workshop, Part Two

The class was held in the sustainably designed, solar heated meeting and workshop space of the Angelic Organics Learning Center, towards the back of the farm. The building is a straw bale structure and from what they say, very energy efficient. Attached is the milking area and animal pens surround it.

This picture shows our class. Starting from the lower left and going clockwise: feta, chèvre, ricotta, fromagina, and mozzarella.The ricotta came about pretty quick and caught me unprepared and cameraless.

Mozzarella required heating the milk to a couple different temperatures. Below the milk is sitting in a water bath trying to maintain a constant temperature of 108 °F for 35 minutes.
Mozzarella also needs to be worked. Bits of mozzarella are pulled like taffy and then formed into balls and dropped into a brine solution. This was the hardest recipe because there are several different temperatures that have to be hit and maintained and it also requires the most actual 'hands-on' work. However, this cheese probably turned out the best (I didn't try the ricotta) that day.

Fromagina may sound unfamiliar. It is a cross between Fromage Blanc and Mascarpone developed by Bob & Ricki Carroll of the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Ricki Carroll is also the author Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses. Fromagina is an easy-to-make, creamy cheese. Here the curd is being ladled into colanders to drain the whey.I think this cheese needed more time to drain than the class allowed.

The most common goat cheese you will find on the supermarket shelves is Chèvre. 'Chèvre' is the French word for goat. This is also a cream cheese which usually comes in vacuum-sealed logs; often combined with herbs, nuts, edible flowers, or fruits like cranberries. Here they are ladling the curd into colanders to drain.Several people declared this cheese 'goaty' though I didn't think it was bad. Pete, the instructor, made several different types of spreads with Chèvre as the base including a chocolate one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cheese Making Workshop, Part One

A little over a week ago I attended a cheese making workshop put on by Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia, IL. I've been to a class there once before and actually have another class scheduled next weekend. This was a very basic class covering cheese making. The milk used was raw goat milk from the small herd of goats they maintain. All recipes were also provided by them.

The class divided into groups of one or two based on what kind of cheese you wanted to make: chevre, fromagina, ricotta, mozzarella, feta, and queso blanco. Most groups had two people. Actually, thinking about it now, I was the only one working alone since I chose feta. The rest split across the other types of cheeses save queso blanco, which nobody wanted to make. I chose feta because I didn't want to do a cream cheese and I was a little intimidated by the mozzarella recipe.

Feta begins as whole goat milk that gets heated to 86 °F. At this point you add 2 ounces of mesophilic goat cheese starter culture, mix, and allow to ripen for one hour. This is my milk ripening:

After ripening, 1/4 rennet table is dissolved into 1/4 cup cool water and then added to the milk. Again, cover and let sit for another hour. This is when the curd is formed. With a knife, cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes using a gentle sawing motion. Let the whey get between the cubes and let it sit another 10 minutes. This is my curd post-cutting:

Now the curd gets stirred for twenty minutes. This picture is just as I started stirring:

After stirring, the curd should be broken down. Feta needs to hang and drain so it goes into cheesecloth. Line a colander with the cheesecloth and ladle the curd and whey into it. My curd and whey just before tying it off:

Tie the corners together and hang the cheese for four hours.

After hanging cut the curd into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with 1 tsp of coarse salt. Age the cheese for four to five days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

My feta tasted OK. The times in class were abbreviated so it only aged for ten minutes before people tried it. I do think it was one of the better cheeses made that day. The cream cheeses didn't seem to turn out great.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Teal Perfection!

Paul and I have done cut-outs probably a dozen times now…and this last time was the best technical execution of the basic frosted cut out cookie (i.e. there have been problems in the past – egs. dough too sticky, dough sticks to many surfaces, icing doesn’t dry – to name a few). In fact, on ‘baking day’ I have been known to turn up missing for several hours to avoid any cookie drama. After our first run at Easter cookies with multiple, unplanned designs that had to be perfectly executed, I pawned off our next Baby (cookie) Basket job to my Mother who was visiting from out of town, telling her I couldn’t take the stress of working with Paul again so soon. She recalled my stories of how the bunny eyes (made of Candy Dots) had to be perfectly matched shades of blue and how Paul became upset when one set wasn’t…A look of fear came over her. I think I might have bribed her with something (spa day at HQ?) to assist Paul with this job, as we had three Baby Baskets to make for Mother’s Day. I once asked Paul, “Why does it take all day to make cut outs?” He gave me this reply: Step 1) Roll out dough. Step 2) Cut out cookies. Step 3) Remove good cookies. Step 4) Scrape up bad cookies. Step 5) Repeat Steps 1-4.

HOWEVER, nothing brings me more joy than planning around a theme and delivering a box of cookies that delights on both taste and appearance! One of my hobbies is scrap booking. As such I make use of my squeeze 2x2 die-cutting system as well as shop for the perfect embellishments. I do not get involved in the cookie itself until the actual decoration of the cookie. Although I sometimes advise (strongly) how I want the cookie to look as I did on this occasion. So, Paul and I have different strengths and can compliment each other quite well.

This occasion called for cut outs in the letters “H” and “Q” for the salon I go to for my therapeutic massages and miscellaneous other services: “HQ Headquarters Salon & Spa.” HQ moved into their new upscale location approximately one year ago, which is consequently how I found them, and were celebrating their one-year anniversary; a week long celebration with a different free service to try each day of the week: Hand masks, paraffin dips, facials, polish changes, 10-minute chair massages, and more. Plus treats and more treats. I wanted to bring in something special that represented the theme and the salon atmosphere.

Although I didn’t get the specific PMS (Pantone Match System®) color number for teal that Julie (salon owner) uses in her printed materials (she didn’t have that readily available), we did match to her brochure and business card. Julie uses teal and white as her primary colors.

Trial and error has led us to the Hard Glaze for Cookies from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. We poured the frosting into clear bottles, much like what you find at a diner for ketchup or mustard, and each set off to frost our assigned letter. I frosted all of the H’s, Paul the Q’s. I preferred to trench a heavy line of frosting across the entire middle of the cookie, then spread evenly with a small spreading spatula. Paul preferred to use the clear bottle for the entire process; he traced a thick line of frosting over the entire cookie then used the bottle tip to spread the frosting. His cookies had more cookie border showing than did mine. Both methods achieved the objective. We had about eight dozen cookies to frost and sprinkle and we finished in record time; in about one and a half hours! It does seem that the frosting starts to set in a couple of minutes…so one should sprinkle the nonpareils every 4-5 cookies. I let the frosting set overnight, then packed everything up in the morning. I arranged them in stacks of four high, alternating H’s and Q’s in the bakery box.

We used Wilton® Teal icing color for the coloring and added a little at a time until we reached the desired boldness of teal color. The sprinkles are Wilton® White Nonpareils and really popped against the teal. The cookie recipe also comes from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. The H’s were flavored with vanilla extract and the Q’s with almond extract.

The packaging was simply a window bakery box with teal scrap booking paper overlaid with a 10” dia. doily. I used a second piece of teal paper to die-cut the letters HQ. I shopped until I found the perfect embellishments, which turned out to be Jolee’s Boutique® ‘My First Haircut.’ This set of stickers contained scissors, a comb, a hair dryer, a salon chair with booster seat and other salon-related tools. I also used parts of three other sticker sets so that everyone at the salon would be represented in their particular specialty; massage, nails, etc.

Julie was thrilled with the cookies, and I was told they were quite the hit with Julie’s clients. This is my first post at Cookies, Et Cetera. I hope you enjoyed reading my first post.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Name Meme

Nirmala from Nirmala's Cooking Corner tagged me for this meme. For each letter in my name, I have to share a little nugget relating to a word that starts with a letter from my name.

Here are the "official" rules (for all of you playing the home version):

  • Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name.

  • When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit.

  • At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag.

  • Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them ,they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

  • If I've tagged YOU, please join in on the fun!

  • PAUL -

    Pisces - My birthday is in March and very much fit the typical description of a Pisces.

    Avid reader - I love to read and even thought about starting a blog reviewing the books I've read. I tend to read a bunch of books in a short period of time and then get distracted/busy for a time and then repeat the cycle again. My subject matter jumps all over the place too. Currently I'm reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss and another on botched executions called The Executioner Always Chops Twice. Since the beginning of July I've finished Louise Dickinson Rich's We Took to the Woods, Bernd Heinrich's A Year in the Maine Woods, Dianne Jacob's Will Write for Food, David Sacks' book Language Visible about the history of the alphabet, Bourdain's The Nasty Bits, Steven Ozment's A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People, Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness (easily as good as Fast Food Nation), and a general pop-culture attraction guide called Elvis Presley Passed Here.

    Udder - As in the thing on the bottom of dairy goats. Lorrie and I recently took a class called Farm Dreams which was about helping people decide if they want to farm or have a market garden and what they need to think about and what it will really take. I also have a cheese making class scheduled in October and then Lorrie and I are taking a soap making class in November. We are thinking about starting a small dairy goat farm to make things like soap and then eventually growing it and making it part of a B&B where everything we use will either be made on the farm or grown locally.

    Lineage - I've done some research into my family tree and found some interesting ancestors. My 11th great grandfather is Stephen Hopkins, who both lived in Jamestown for awhile and came over on the Mayflower with his daughter Constance, my 10th great grandmother. I also have a 4th or 5th great grandfather who was a Loyalist in the American Revolution and eventually moved to Canada. Who knows how many hereditary societies my family could join if I got off my duff and actually did the follow-up leg work.

    Now, for the people I am tagging:
    Hannah of Bittersweet
    Alisa of One Frugal Foodie
    Mimi of French Kitchen In America
    Kristen at Dine and Dish

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    August 2007 Just Baking Round-Up

    My "Look, I post somewhere else" round-up of posts I did as editor at Just Baking in August.

    August 10 - Video Learning: Checkerboard Cookies - A great video demonstration of making a decorative sugar cookie without frosting.

    August 13 - Bob’s Red Mill Cooking Classes - A list of classes available from Bob's Red Mill

    August 15 - Triticale - One of my unusual ingredient posts.

    No posts on August 1st, 7th, and 14th. I think September will be much better. Either way, Just Baking is growing every month.

    *Update* - As Just Baking no longer exists, I have removed the actual links but left the post names as a source for ideas

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    Baby cookies

    Sometimes I don't think I'm a good blogger. I don't photograph everything I make and for some reason, there's a certain group of baked goods that I make but never blog about. It's a shame really, because these baked goods are what really are a huge part of the blog's name.

    Over the past two years, Lorrie had a good number of friends and coworkers who had children. Lorrie, being friendly and social, likes to give little gift bags. These bags usually have something baby related, a container like a bucket or basket, a dozen cookies, a stuffed animal or flower, and a card.

    The cookie shapes are baby bottles and baby buggies. If we know the sex of the baby we use the corresponding color. Pink for girls, blue for boys. People get a mix if we don't know.

    We've experimented a little with different recipes for the cookies and the frosting and I've settled on the frosting. The cookies taste good but the dough doesn't hold its stiffness, even after being in the fridge for 24 hours, so I'm still trying different things. We've also settled on using the white nonpareils on top. We think they look better than dusting sugar and they pop against the frosting background.


    OK, I made this a while ago and I have to confess, I forgot how. Well, OK, I didn't forget per se, I just didn't write down the high points of what I did. We were leaving for vacation and I was trying to pack, bake these, and load the car. I'll try to recall as much as I can.

    First, I didn't make the dough. It is store-bought, frozen puff pastry dough. I just rolled it out per the instructions on the box.

    The filling is peach. I had some peaches (like 4 or 5) I needed to use up before going on vacation. I simply chopped them up, threw the chunks into a sauce pan, added about 1/4 cup of sugar, and cooked until the fruit released its liquid and then reduced a little.

    I cut the dough in half and then cut each half into three squares. A pizza cutter works best. Each square got a dollop of fruit and syrup in the center and then was folded over. I moved the filled triangles to a baking sheet and then covered with cinnamon and sugar. I probably should have used an egg wash to both seal the turnovers and cover the turnovers and hold the cinnamon and sugar better. Still it worked pretty well and none unfolded or came out sugarless.

    So far so good. Here's where this write-up falters. I don't remember the oven temperature or how long I baked them.

    Lorrie and I used these as breakfast on our trip to her parent's place.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Early Cookie Experiments

    I was cleaning up a number of different folders of pictures the other day and ran across this picture:

    Lorrie and I had made cookie baskets for Easter one year and we churned out 5-7 dozen cookies. Unfortunately, this was before I was blogging so taking pictures wasn't all that important and I only took this picture, with a disposable camera no less, to use up the film.

    I do think this was a great batch of cookies. I'll try to zoom in and highlight some of them.

    This is an Easter bunny face. The eyes and nose were candy dots, the kind that come stuck to pieces of paper. The whiskers were black licorice; we had to cut these in half because the licorice was still too thick, even as this thin rope. That was tough. The ears were done with pink sugar and I used a stencil to get the shape right.

    The cookies on the left are another version of the rabbit, sitting in grass. Again the eyes and nose were the candy dots. No whiskers, we just couldn't get the whiskers small enough. The grass is coconut dyed using green food coloring. Other cookies in the picture are various Easter eggs and a church with gummi bears lined up.

    Other cookies in the main picture are robin eggs (on the left), sheep, tulips, and butterflies. The robin eggs had a turquoise base with purple sugar. The sheep were just covered in coconut. The tulips were just simply designed with pink, white, or yellow frosting and then a contrasting sugar color. The butterflies were yellow or pink with M&M's as the body sections and then spots in the wings.

    The white tower of drawers is where I keep the cookie decorating supplies. You can see some of the left over candy in the lower right. In the lower left you can see what looks like spray painting. I found a spray can color spray thing. I think it is meant to be like a poor man's air-brush. I played around with it, both alone and with stencils. I wasn't thrilled and probably, OK, won't, use it again.

    All in all, I think they turned out pretty good and they were well appreciated. My personal favorites were the two rabbits.

    Friday, August 17, 2007

    Rhubarb Cake

    One of the true treasures of my cookbook collection isn't Baking: From My Home to Yours, Tartine, or even the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. It's an old plastic bound collection of worn-and-torn pages between two laminated pieces of yellow construction paper. The title quotes Psalm 37.3 in black script, fancier than everyday handwriting but by no means calligraphy. "You Shall Be Fed" it proclaims. This was the fundraising effort of the United Methodist Women of Zion United Methodist Church of Denmark, WI. The purpose was to raise funds for a new addition for the church, a hand-drawn picture of which is there for your inspection, on the dedication page just past the front cover. There are no full colored, highly styled photographs but the page dividers do have little black magic marker doodles illustrating the subject of the pages that follow it. The recipes are terse. These are not instructions, these are formulas. There are no sidebars explaining terms and techniques, no science lesson on the Maillard reaction. It is expected that you know how to 'cook' because why on earth would you be buying a cookbook if you have never been in a kitchen before?

    These old books, passed over many times in used book stores for the Food Network production overruns, are truly treasures. Has Rachel Ray ever included a recipe for ice?

    1 empty 1/2 gal. milk carton (preferably Lake to Lake)

    Pour water in 1/2 gallon carton and put in freezer until firm. Can be broken apart for crushed ice or left whole and used to keep things cold in cooler or box. May be refrozen.

    Does "Whoever has a heart full of love always has something to give." sound like a quote from a Tony Bourdain book? Of course not.

    But I have to admit it's more than just kitsche that brings me back repeatedly. Many of the names that appear throughout this book are the same names that appear throughout my family tree. Plus, it has notes on the recipes, and a few more grandmother.

    recipes in the blank space, in the familiar hand-writing of my

    Take, for example, this recipe for rhubarb cake from my great-grandmother.

    Rhubarb Cake
    Elsie Schneider

    1/2 c. shortening
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 lg. egg
    1 tsp. soda in 1 c. sour milk or buttermilk
    2 c. flour
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3 c. rhubarb (cut in pieces)

    Use well greased pan. Cream shortening, sugar, salt, and 1 large egg. Add soda, buttermilk, flour, and vanilla.

    3 c. rhubarb - cut in pieces. Sprinkle 1/2 c. sugar.

    That's it, that's the entire recipe. It was assumed you would know things like oven temperature for baking cakes and times. My grandmother wrote "Bake 350° 45min" in the margin (that would be a 'Moderate Oven' according to the helpful oven chart included at the book's beginning).

    I've made this cake several times now, first with just rhubarb and with a rhubarb-cherry mix. Both times it was delicious. The cake, though sweet, highlighted the fruit without overpowering it. The cherries and rhubarb worked well paired, and I think I could have even reduced the sugar in the topping by a quarter cup or even all of it.

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    July 2007 Just Baking Round-Up

    My "Look, I post somewhere else" round-up of posts I did as editor at Just Baking in July. Things are looking good over there. We are adding new writers and content and our stats have been increasing each month.

    July 10 - Campfire Baking - My brief overview on Dutch ovens. Inspired by the attempt to use one while on vacation.

    July 12 - Video Learning: Decorating Sugar Cookies - A cool video on decorating sugar cookies. It was cool to see her use a pasta maker to roll the fondant.

    July 19 - Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale® - I also posted the Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale on Just Baking.

    July 20 - - Do you have the perfect casserole for any occasion? - Do you want to write for Just Baking.

    July 25 - Video Learning: Mooncakes - Cool baked treats for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

    No posts on July 3rd, 6th, 26th. I try to cover when the other writers don't post but sometimes I'm just too busy (stupid job!).

    *Update* - As Just Baking no longer exists, I have removed the actual links but left the post names as a source for ideas

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®

    logo_gabs.gifDo you want to do something about childhood hunger in America? Join with the over 1 million people who have been baking, selling, or buying baked goods as part of Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale. So far this campaign has raised over $3 million since 2003.

    "The Great American Bake Sale campaign provides a simple, exciting way for people of all ages to join the fight to end childhood hunger in America," said Billy Shore, Share Our Strength's founder and executive director. "The campaign builds on the long American tradition of holding bake sales as community fundraisers. By engaging everyone to hold a bake sale, the Great American Bake Sale will help ensure that the 12.4 million American children at risk of hunger have the healthy, nutritious foods they need to develop their full potential."

    Hunger has long lasting effects on children. It contributes to poorer health overall and can affect the child's psychological and academic development.

    What can you do to help? Visit and learn more about the campaign. Then choose to hold a bake sale or a virtual bake sale to raise money to end childhood hunger. Registration for Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale is free and available at

    Monies raised go to local organizations that run after school and summer meal programs. Funds also go to organizations that educate families at risk in proper nutrition and cooking skills.

    Share Our Strength and Food Network have joined together for this year's campaign with Food Network TV personalities Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, and Tyler Florence taking part in PSA's encouraging people to participate.

    This year's top fundraiser will win a trip for two to the Food Network, get tickets to a taping of Emeril Live!, and receive a tour of the Food Network Kitchens, the 'soul' of the Food Network.

    logo_sos.gifShare Our Strength® is leading the fight against hunger and poverty by working with individuals and companies to use their strengths to the fullest. Their priority is to end childhood hunger in America and the Great American Bake Sale is just one way they are working to achieve this goal. For more information, please visit

    All logos are from the Great American Bake Sale web site.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Why I've been missing

    I've been slacking in keeping up with the posts here but I have a good reason: vacation. After a tough end to the 2nd quarter at work, I was able spend a week at Lorrie's parent's place in the thumb of Michigan. I spent most of it just relaxing, reading a few books. How could you not when this is your surroundings?

    These are the neighbors...

    It makes it hard to come back to the sprawling exurb and the million or so cars.

    But, I was able to do a little research.

    The best part of the whole vacation? All the time I got to spend with my love...

    Now it's just playing catch-up at work and here...