Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tasty Treats

Those who read this blog regularly know cooking and baking are hobbies and a stress-reliever when I have the time to indulge in it. Last week I tested a recipe before I made it for mom on Mother's Day, and it was so delicious I think it's the best cake I have made this year. 


Serves 8
Prep 20 min. Total time 3 hrs b/ c of cooling

1/2 c . olive oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 c . all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for pan
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. pinch a pinch of fine salt
3/4 c. whole milk
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 T. finely grated mandarin zest, plus 6 T. mandarin juice (about six mandarins)
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 14 c. confectioner's sugar

HEAT oven to 350 degrees.  Brush a loaf pan with o oil and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

WHISK together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 t. salt in medium bowl, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, butter, vanilla, mandarin zest, and 4 T. of the mandarin juice; set aside.

BEAT the granulated sugar and eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on med-high until light and fluffy -- 2 to 3 minutes.

REDUCE speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing well between additions. (The batter will be thin),

TRANSFER the batter to the prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 minutes (or 70). 

COOL cake in pan 30 minutes, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

COMBINE the confectioner's sugar, the remaining juice and the remaining pinch of salt in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add a teaspoon of water or more juice is needed to loosen. Drizzle over cooled cake. Let set before serving.

There are a few things Arkansas is 'famous for,' in the food category: pink tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, and finally -- strawberries! The strawberries came out two weeks ago so I have been stocking up. When not gobbling them up whole or freezing them, I am using them any way I can. Excy loves my strawberry-rhubarb pie, but my frequent staples are shortbread and an Indian strawberry bread. If anyone is interested, I'll post these as well.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Weekend Update

Well, she did not take Frodo and Charlie. After numerous email's, buying more of his meds to get them stocked up, and assuring her they are indoor-outdoors cats, great hunters, and Frodo takes his little pill easily, she canceled our meeting, and then a day later wrote to say 'her husband was concerned about giving Frodo his pill.' Seriously? Lady you contacted ME. I understand there are lots of cats that need homes who don't have to take a 5 mg pill, but I was still annoyed, so didn't respond (after all, what was there to say?)  -- but also glad not to worry about them running off. I had assured her they were to come back to us should it not work out, but you never know what runs through a cat's head, ha...

Thanks, all, for not dropping me from your occasional reading list of blogs. Mom has been in and out of the hospital and between those dramas, their dr appts., beginning to get the house for sell, a few freelance writing and editing projects, etc., etc., the blog writing has slipped away. Mom's doing okay (for now), and the dr added two more chemo treatments, thinking we may be able 'to stay on top of it,' even though there is no cure. She has scans in two weeks. Other than that encouraging information, the biggest news is we finally, finally, forced them into getting a personal caregiver to help four hours twice a week by threatening to quit before we all fell apart. We have been struggling for 9 months and are tired of triage management -- a caregiver is going to take a huge load off me. It took a few meetings with a social worker, their new geriatric internist, family meetings, and my melt-down and threat to make it happen, though.

T just started last week, so this is still on a trial basis, but I think it's going to work out. Dad has turned on his charm and she 'gets' his dry humor, and mom is the kind of gracious lady who writes a thank you note after receiving a thank you note or a get-well card, so I think the parents will be on the best behavior and they will all get along fine. T is sweet but strong enough to insist on their having a meal or taking a stroll around the yard. She will take care of meals, laundry, housework, and errands. I am thrilled to have a pair of eyes and ears on them in the home and not to spend 3 hours cleaning out their refrigerator or throwing out pantry items from the '80s. When I found out dad's answer to their pantry moths was to put mothballs on the shelves, I decided it was the final straw. I was not moving into my old bedroom and it was just a matter of time before we were all spending the night in the hospital again.
The hospital couch-into a bed was clearly designed by a misanthrope (who should be forced to sleep on it every night for a month) and it's taken me awhile to get 'back to normal' (some semblance of it, anyway).

Last Saturday we had our Wing Spur fundraiser. Unfortunately everything in the state of AR was also planned for that weekend. We were forced into the date because the ASPCA is giving 90 nonprofits a chance to win a $10,000 grant based on how much we raised and how many people showed, and they chose the date because it was the 100-year-anniversary of the first arrest of a man for abusing a horse. The grant will be taking into consideration how small or large the nonprofits are and based more on the activities planned for the day. We had six artist booths, face-painting, and a fishing tournament for the kids (complete with an awesome bass trophy that also featured a horse on it!), hotdogs and burgers and vegan fare for folks, and of course, horse tours. It was a fun day, and not as disastrous as we feared (no one was sending donations or RSVPs!). But our regulars were busy and didn't respond, so we didn't raise much, and will have to do something in the fall. And being associated with the ASPCA hurt us a bit, since we have hunters around here who apparently take umbrage with the organization. All we care about is feeding the horses, and if we can win 10,000 so be it, but they didn't see it that way and a few didn't make an appearance. If you're on FB go friend the 'Wing Spur wild horses' page and see the pictures. We will eventually have them on the web page, but honestly with everything that must be done these days it's not high on the priority list (I know; I bad).

An eagle was back fishing the pond. Maybe he will be a regular. The mama 'coons are coming up during  the day to eat and take a break while the little ones sleep. The horses are loving the weather and swimming in the pond……I hope that you also enjoy the weather before the dog days kick in……..