Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nutmeg Cake and Caramel Frosting by C.H. Admirand

I shared a pic of this cake on FB recently, and one of my author friends, Terri Brisbin asked me to share the recipe. I thought it would be easier to type it up on my blog and share the link on FB...soooo, goes :) 

Readers, please check out Terri's latest releases Rising Fire and Raging Sea! 

Nutmeg Cake

1/2 c. butter
1 and 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, well beaten
2 c. sifted cake flour
1 to 2 tsps ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans...or one 10 inch spring form pan. I like to use the fancy bottom...instead of the straight cake bottom. Since it was the first time I baked this cake, I didn't want to use the bundt times can be tricky with our old oven :).

Cream butter and sugar with beaten eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients, add to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour into greased and floured spring form pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking after 45 minutes...bake times are different for every oven. I just kept putting 10 minutes on the timer after 45 minutes and watched it like a hawk. Sorry that I forgot to write down the exact time. But cooking and baking is always an adventure in our house :)

Caramel Frosting (tastes like a Praline :) - frosting will harden when cooled
1/2 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar (we love the dark brown sugar)
1/4 c. milk
2 d. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat butter until melted, stir in brown sugar and heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce to simmer for a few more minutes, stirring constantly, slowly add in milk and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and cool. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, ice cooled cake.'s what for breakfast...well only if there's no pie LOL! 



Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Jam--Fabulous Failure or Creative Culinary Save--with Taste Test Update by C.H. Admirand

Did you ever have one of those moments where you decided to improve on one of your recipes? Well, that's what prompted me to share my fabulous failure...well maybe not quite a failure...but definitely not what I intended. LOL!

I totally love the Ball Jar heritage collection, so when I saw their latest squat, square jam jars a few months ago, I thought, I'm definitely picking some up. But the budget ebbs and flows, and I hadn't had the extra to splurge just because I liked them...and then a few days ago, our darling oldest son surprises me with them. Aren't they gorgeous?

I picked, cooked and froze Rhubarb from our garden last month and was itching to get at it today, since we had the family cookout yesterday. While the canner is heating up...because yep, these jars are NOT freezer safe--although cute as can be *sigh*...I've got the Rhubarb defrosting and heating up. Then my evil-side nudges the let's-keep-it-safe-and-try-to-follow-the-recipe-this-time-side, and I'm searching through the spice jars for the Lemon Peel and Orange Peel. I added in 2 tsps. of each and taste it, thinking oh this is good, but it needs something. And I reach for the ground cloves...which could have been perfect if I'd only added a 1/2 tsp. instead of a whole one. *sigh*

So now I'm thinking, OK, do I toss the whole pot, or do I try to keep adjusting and fixing it. Evil side says go for it, you've already ditched your recipe. LOL! Yeah...welcome to my world. Soooo I'm thinking not Jam...but Conserve! Cool, just add in dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. And I'm finally happy with it. So, nose to the grindstone time, boiling those jars--which don' really fit well inside the jar holder inside the canner--think cute square bottoms in the round hole jar holder...yeah. BUT I figure out how to tilt, lift, etc. to get them in there and sterilized while the conserve is cooking.

It was quite a bit trickier to get the filled jars back into the jar holder inside the canner...but again, where there is a will, there is always a  way. As I'm putting on the canner lid,  I'm asking for help from above: Mom, am I doing this right? All those years spent canning with my Mom, and I still think of her every time I get out the makings for jam or jelly. Lord, I miss you, Mom. 

Finally the conserve is processing in the water-bath and my darling hubby comes back inside after being my hero adding the trim to the refinished back door (which is gorgeous and no longer painted red, btw) and when I briefly give him the run-down, he makes the appropriate hmms and ahhs so that I'm pretty sure he's listening. Then he asks the question that stumps me: What do you do with conserve?

YIKES! All I could think of to say was well, you can serve it when your turkey or ham is too dry. Yes, my brain has ceased to function as my creativity has gone into my culinary creation and decided that's it for today. 

Then darling daughter answers my text and saves the day, after I explained what happened: She suggests serving the conserve with crackers and Brie!! Genius! I think we need to add a glass of wine to that and we'll be good to go.

The best news so far is that as soon as I've removed the processed jars, so they can cool on the counter, I hear that first *ping* of a lid sealing. Then another one, and then the last two and I know that Mom heard my prayer and helped the jars seal because I am suddenly reminded of countless nights with our family around the dinner table cheering as each jar of jelly (or tomatoes, peaches, chili sauce, etc.) cheerfully *pinged* as it sealed. Thanks Mom, I love you!

Soooo, I think I'm done in the test kitchen for today, and thinking leftovers sound like a plan for the rest of the day!

Happy Labor Day!

  OMGoodness Taste-Test Update!!!

Because I didn't overly-fill the jam with cranberries and chopped walnuts for this first try at a recipe, the pic looks a little odd. Ignore that. LOL!

Test-tasted and approved by my darling hubby :) We were fresh out of Brie cheese, but had Vermont Sharp White he tasted his on a Ritz. 

BUT, then I remembered we had cream cheese, so I had mine on Italian Herb flatbread crackers with a small glass of red wine. Totally yummy!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Isn't Over Yet by C.H. Admirand

As the days warm up toward the first day of school, it's our darling oldest grandson who will be starting Pre-K next week! Where did the time go? Wasn't it yesterday that our oldest was born, no that's not right, he's been out of college for going on 11 years. LOL...don't stand still or life will pass you by.

I was fiddling around with my website yesterday and changed it up a bit, and then started playing with my blog today to see if I could come up with a new look. The problem is I have SOOOO many pics of our gardens, birds, butterflies, yummy baked goods, jams, grandbabies, puppies, etc. but not all of the pics are the right size for the header or background. Good Grief! BUT, I finally decided on a background after spending almost an hour on it. Whew. Might change my mind as the Autumnal Equinox gets closer, but until that first snap of cold, I'll keep our Black Swallowtail Butterfly in the Butterfly Bush.

The yummy dessert pic for the new blog header was a recipe I tried out of Tricia Yearwood's cookbook for shortbread, but instead of just strawberries, I had a bunch of berries and real...yes folks...real whipped cream. No extra sugar needed if it's the real deal. :) Teasing you with a pic of Butter Whiskey Cake with Jameson Sugar Glaze :)

As I'm working in the kitchen, I hear the sweet chirping of Goldfinches, we've had at least 5 to 6 at-a-time raiding our Thistles and are few pics I snapped yesterday am.

I'll miss the butterflies that have graced our gardens this summer...

And then there was the baby bunny who came to gorge himself on our fresh clover 

OH! And the Green Frog that scared the you-know-what out of me when I was adding water to our pond. I swear he laughed at me! 

And of course lots of pics of our darling grandbabies and puppies. Life has been wonderful, and even though at times a challenge to keep going when hard times hit, these images of Mother Nature at her best and reminder of the blessings of family and a place to gather to share a moment in the garden, or in the kitchen sample jams, pies, or cakes, all in all, I wouldn't trade my life for anything!  My family is and always will be my rock :)

Life is truly good, and I have been blessed.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Long and Winding Road Dealing with Writer's Block by C.H. Admirand

 I started writing for publication over 20 years ago and have always had the gift of words, plot lines, and characters arguing in my head.

Life is filled with ups and downs: happiness, sadness, joyous moments, and devastating ones. I guess I'd never really thought about how I handled these moments and balanced out my family life and my writing life. I just did.

I've always put my family first, and with my mom's health rapidly declining, and our daughter about to deliver, I knew I wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines of the new contract I'd received. I had to cancel the contract and return the advance.

Two weeks later our second grandbaby was born, and 7 days later my Mom died and everything stopped making sense. My Dad died 16 years ago, and I knew they would be together now, but there was this big hole in my life.

The words dried up, plot lines no longer made sense, characters stopped arguing in my head--and worst of all the constant music playing in my head stopped.

I struggled for a long time trying to make sense of what was happening, but in the midst of it all, there were final arrangements to be made, Mom's Eulogy to write, a lawsuit to deal with--her reverse mortgage company was suing my brother, sisters, and myself--and six months later when I'd done everything I had to do, my gift was gone.

First I'd tried ignoring the problem, meditating, praying, baking, cleaning, until I finally tried accepting the fact that my gift was gone. I signed off of social media because it was too painful to talk about. 

For a while I kept busy editing, freshening up and reissuing some of my backlist. That took my mind off the real problem. That I'd somehow lost my gift. I wasn't sure if I'd neglected the nurturing of my gift, or if I'd done something horrible to deserve losing it. I was a mess...but my family was there for me, thank God. They have always been and will always be my rock.

Then one day, one of my writer friends, the fabulous Ms. Carolyn Brown, sent me an email with a character's name. She said she usually knows right away who they are, what they look like, and what story they want her to tell...but this time it was just the name. And then she said she realized, it wasn't her character to keep, it was for me. Humbled by her gift, something clicked inside of me as I thanked her, and the door that had abruptly shut on my creativity squeaked open a tiny crack.

I can't say that I'm back to normal sitting down and having the words just flow out of my heart, my head, and my soul...but they're there...just buried beneath years of living and dealing with the gift of life.

I guess dealing with writer's block is different for everyone. For some the answer could be found on the pages of a "how-to" book, for others it might be sparked by something another author has to say during a workshop. For myself, it has been like the Beatles song that just started playing in my head: The Long and Winding Road. Fingers crossed I can get back to my wips and start writing again without the constant worry that I'll do or say something that will chase my gift away forever.

Thank goodness, I have my family--my rock--and because of the gift of a character's name--Tom McNally--I have the gift of hope. 

Thank you, Carolyn Brown. You are my hero! Carolyn Brown's The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop is available now, check it out!