Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Cake & Almond Macaroons

Here are two items I made a few weeks ago and forgot to post about. The first is a simple, one layer lemon-poppyseed cake with a recipe via Epicurious (click here for recipe). It's quick, sweet and spring-y.The second thing are these Almond Macaroons from Martha Stewart's Cookie book, recipe also found here. They aren't the sandwich cookie macarons and they aren't the coconut macaroons. They're just a little cookie made with almond paste, egg whites, confectioner's sugar and vanilla, a lot of almond flavor in little airy cookie. Word to the wise keep an eye on these, the first batch I put in the oven were a little overcooked.I'm going to be on a baking-vacation for the next few days, I'm headed out this morning to Colorado with my friend Kenan. We'll be visiting Colorado Springs, Denver, Estes Park and maybe Boulder and going to as many bakeries and yarn stores as we can. As always I'm excited to visit a state I've never been to and see mountains! However, I am not excited to fly. Flying with a friend makes it a little easier, at least I have someone's hand to hold!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chockablock Cookies

You'll forgive me if my details on these are a little fuzzy, I made them a month ago and forgot to take notes! This week's selection was chosen by Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet. I baked these for a Kidney Foundation bake sale at Doug's company. I do remember snatching a few for myself before I sent them off. I know some people expressed concern over the combination of molasses, dried fruit and chocolate but I thought they were very, very good. Thanks Mary!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Here, have some cake

Last week Doug drove out to the Agricenter and picked up some strawberries from Jones Orchard for me. I had it in mind to make a strawberry cake with them, but searching in my cookbooks and online led me to mostly recipes that used boxed cake mix and strawberry gelatin, buh? Nothing against cake mix but um, that was not really what I was going for. I Google-ed some more and finally found this recipe for a strawberry shortcake/cake hybrid from The Pioneer Woman. I made it exactly as the recipe is written and it turned out so nicely. I used a springform pan since my normal cake pan wasn't tall enough and it was perfect. The strawberries were incredibly ripe and sweet and the cream cheese frosting was a nice accompaniment to the juicy strawberries and vanilla flavor of the cake.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Family memories - one

As I mentioned earlier this week I borrowed some family photos from my grandmother to scan with our new scanner. I thought it would be nice to share some of those photos and memories to go along with them. The first set are of my maternal grandmother's parents.
Their names were Irene and Roy Rone but I called them Ma and Pa Rone. Ma Rone passed away in 1994 and Pa Rone in 2003.

(My great-grandmother, 1955)

As a child I spent a lot of time at their house in the summertime. They are a big part of why I'm so interested in gardening. They always had a huge garden and chickens and Pa kept bees too.
These are some of my favorite memories about spending time with them.
(My first Easter at their house, 1982)

Swinging in the white swing on their front porch
Shelling purple hull peas in a big pan on the back porch until my fingers turned purple
Align Center
(Pa with my mom)

Eating cornbread mashed up in cold milk
Picking blackberries and strawberries from their garden and eating them while they were still warm from the sun
Walking around in their huge garden and being enthralled by the actual fruits and vegetables on the vine
Ma’s little dark glass bottles of snuff on top of the television
(With my newborn baby brother and me, 1983)

The wood stove in the center of their living room, watching them cook sweet potatoes on top of the stove
Looking for Easter eggs in their front yard, among all their roses and peonies
Riding in my Pa’s baby blue Ford Ranger
Going with Pa into the chicken house to get eggs
I can only recall a couple of instances on which Pa did not wear overalls. Practically every memory of him I have he’s wearing Liberty overalls, a long-sleeved flannel shirt and a cap.
(With my uncle, my mom and my aunt, 1963 or 1964)

Pa peeling and eating an apple with a pocketknife
They went to bed with the sun and woke up with it too
They always had bacon leftover from breakfast, at any given time you could go to their house and have a piece of bacon
There was also always Little Debbie cakes to snack on
I feel very lucky to have been able to know them

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Today is my birthday, somewhere around 11:40pm-ish I'll officially be entering the last year of my twenties. I know it's not 'old' or anywhere near 'old' but I can't help but be a little freaked out. Where the hell did the last ten years go? Each year seems to go by more rapidly than the last, yikes.

I am happy, really, really happy, with my life right now and I'm also thankful for the family and friends and husband I have that support me and love me and eat my baked goods.

For the next 12 months I plan on work on my 30-by-30 list, 30 things I want to do by the time I leap into my thirties this time next year. I was inspired by folks like Andrea of Hula Seventy and Maggie Mason's (Mighty Girl) Mighty Life List. My list is here on Listography and it isn't full of life-altering, impossible things, but hopefully things I'll do and enjoy or hate or whatever, but I know I'll be richer for the experience. There's something from a Kurt Vonnegut book I think about whenever I'm feeling apprehensive or unmotivated.

"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." - from "Player Piano"

In celebration of my birthday here are some pictures from birthdays of the past.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Sweet Cream Biscuits

I first made these a few months ago and was amazed by how simple these were to make. I know I had a tendency to work the dough a little too much so I went easy on my mixing this time. This batch rose better than my last batch, which is a good thing. The honey-butter I slapped on them was a very delicious addition to a Sunday morning treat. Thanks to Melissa of Love at First Bite for this selection.

Monday, April 19, 2010

To grandmother's house we go

Yesterday afternoon Doug and I drove to Covington to visit my grandmother and aunt and take back some pictures I had borrowed to scan a few months ago. Sunday was such a pretty, clear day and a little cooler than it had been over the past week or so. A lot of Nannie's flowers were blooming so I took loads of pictures. We also visited with her chickens, I was hoping Doug might be swayed by seeing them, alas he was not. Although he did think the rooster's feathers would be ideal for fly-tying.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii)Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Snowball bush, one of my favorites (Viburnum opulus)
One of my grandmother's peacocks & a tomcat that hangs outSugar, my aunt's horse
Ricky, the rooster, who has a slightly garbled crow more 'cock-a' than 'cock-a-doodle-do' Ethel, the hen (there was another hen, Lucy, but Nannie said something got into the pen and killed her)
Valentine, a hen that (based on my aunt's best guess) is around 12 years old, which seems pretty old for a chicken. My Nannie seemed concerned the chicken might have arthritis.We also drove over to my great-grandparents old house. It's been tied up in estate issues for years now.It's nothing like it once was, but I wanted to go snap a few pictures of it. Most of the grass is overgrown and there's a possibility there are creepy-crawlies slithering around so I didn't go much further than the driveway. I have very happy memories of spending time at this house (more about that later this week). In fact when I was first born my parents lived just down the road. If I squint my eyes real hard I can see my great-grandfather sitting on the front porch cutting up an apple with his pocketknife.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden Update 2010: Week 6

I'm going to MURDER my neighbor's outdoor cat. Despite my best efforts it will not stop using my raised garden beds as giant litter boxes. As I said before, I love animals, I have three cats myself, but they live indoors, where cats should live. I've got a few more ideas I'm going to try, fingers crossed one of them will alleviate the problem... At any rate here's what been happening in the garden.

Two varieties of beans have sprouted
As well as the yellow zucchini (or okra, I can't remember which one I put here)
Carrots have gotten their second leaves
Swiss chard is beginning to look like actual Swiss chard, just a really tiny version
Pea explosion!
They need a trellis, I saw this on You Grow Girl, which may not work for my peas since they aren't in such a deep container, but it's a pretty and very useful idea nonetheless.

Over the weekend I bought two sage plants and a basil plant from a local nursery and planted it with my other herbs.
When I was inspecting the beds I also saw teensy little sprouts at the end of the carrot bed, which I'm almost positive are itsy-bitsy tomatoes. Last year I had a grape tomato plant there and I'm guessing the sprouts are from a fallen tomato or two, maybe they'll produce.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Local(ish) love

Last week when I was catching up on my Google Reader I saw Kerry's (aka I Love Memphis) post mentioning 901 Love's t-shirts. A few clicks later and I bought this shirt via the 901 Love website and within a couple of days it was delivered to my front door. I really dig the design and the t-shirt itself is super comfortable.

If you live in Memphis chances are you know about WEVL, our volunteer radio station. I think it's one of the best things about Memphis and I back that up with my wallet and my free time. I'm an off-air volunteer which means I help stuffing envelopes, answering the phones during pledge drives, selling WEVL merchandise at Main Street Trolley Night or the RiverArts Fest or pretty much anything they need volunteers for. Right now they're in the middle of their spring pledge drive and one of the pledge gifts they offered was the new Harlan T. Bobo CD uniquely autographed by Mr. Bobo himself. I made my pledge and got one of the CD's before they were all gone. Not only is the music great but the autograph and drawing makes it even better. I've been listening to it since Sunday and so far my favorite song is "Mlle. Chatte." If you're so inclined you can donate online at or wait until Friday night between 8-10PM to call (901) 528-1990 and I'll be answering the phone to take your pledge!

Olive & Sinclair isn't exactly local - they're about 3.5 hours from being local. They're a Nashville-based artisan 'bean to bar' chocolate company and the chocolate is fantastic. I bought a bar of their 67% Dark Chocolate at Crema in Nashville when we were there in January. Then during a recent trip to Whole Foods (in Memphis) I found a bar of the 75% Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and OMG it was so good. I spent the better part of a week rationing it off to myself in small pieces. Chocolate and salt is probably the best combination since peanut butter and jelly.