Sunday, July 22, 2018


When I first started to blog, waaaaaay back in 2006, a popular pastime was to 'surf the web'. There was a lot less on the internet and not so much in the way of social media that there is Twitter, no Instagram or Snapchat for instance. People had more time to just wander around from link to link and check things out.

Recently when I was looking for a recipe on my blog (which is not easy since I have been truly terrible at keeping up any kind of current recipe index...sorry) I started really looking at, and in some cases reading, old posts from years ago. It was fun! My sister recently did the same thing and told me that she really enjoyed reading some of my old posts. So I checked my stats and found that only one post in the top 10 was older than 2018. Most people looking at this blog are only reading the most recent posts. I'm glad that you are visiting, but do consider wandering around and seeing what else is here. I've posted over 1,000 recipes over the years. A lot of them are for bread, cake, cookies and scones, but there are plenty of others, too.

Don't know how to check out the old posts? Find the 'view web version' link, usually at the bottom of the posts that your computer, browser, or phone shows. If you click on that it takes you to the version which included my flawed recipe index (which looks like a photo of a table set for dinner...just click on the photo to go to the index) on the right, plus a set of links for each year I've blogged. If you click on the triangle to the left of the year, all the months in that year are listed. Click on the triangle to the left of the month and all the posts in the month appear.

Here are some links...match them with the photos above and at the top of the post, then check them out if they look interesting and look at a few posts before or after to get your 'surf' going!!

96-Proof Chocolate Bundt Cake8 Ingredient Mediterranean Couscous SaladGrilled Cheese and Basil Polenta, Quiche with Swiss Chard, Swiss Cheese and Bacon, Stuffed with Berries Summer Pudding

So try it sometime; surf this blog and see what you find. Make a comment if you find something that has an error (I know there must be some) or that you really enjoy. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Lemon Sheet Cake #TheCakeSliceBakers

A little late to the party, but summer is never an easy time to find the right time to bake. As usual, we have a project for the house going on. This July it's a refurbishment of the back deck, which is a three level affair connected by steps. Sweetie and I built it together over 25 years ago, so it has aged enough to no longer be beautiful, nor totally safe.

Today we stopped early enough that I whipped up the Lemon Sheet Cake from The Perfect Cake cookbook (no 'buttermilk' in the title since I didn't use buttermilk). Except for using non-dairy margarine and soy creamer as substitutes for the butter and buttermilk, I followed the recipe exactly. Those substitutions are necessary if I'm going to eat any of the cake, and I soooo enjoyed this cake that I'm glad I did.

This cake is tender, moist and has a heavenly true lemon flavor. The crumb is fairly tight and the crust delicate. I love the lemon sugar glaze even though it does make the cake pretty sweet. The sprinkle of lemon zest enriched granulated sugar over the glaze adds just the right touch of crunch, and even more lemon appeal and sweetness.

Allow some time at the beginning to zest and juice the lemons...takes 5-10 minutes, but is well worth the effort. Otherwise this is a fairly basic cake recipe where you cream the butter with the sugar that has been enriched with the lemon zest, then you add eggs, then the dry ingredients in three parts and the wet ingredients in two parts, with the dry added last. Using cake flour is wonderful since it makes the cake delicate and tender.

I know that quite a few Cake Slice Bakers also make this recipe. Who can blame them? This cake if just fine by itself and even better with a few ripe strawberries or raspberries or blackberries or blueberries and since this is berry season that's easy to do. I added a few  strawberries from our garden and it was the perfect summer treat with the luscious lemon cake!

Do visit the other Cake Slice Bakers to see how their cakes turned out. There is at least on who did the cake pops and one who did the almond meringue layers with fruit. No recipe, but do consider buying the book because every recipe so far has been flawless.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through.  This year it is The Perfect Cake from America's Test Kitchen #atkcake.  We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook,  Instagram, and  Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes, or visit our blog where the links are updated each month. If you are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.
The Cake Slice Bakers are baking from a new book "The Perfect Cake" from America's Test Kitchen.

Our choices this month are...
  1. Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake
  2. Apricot-Almond Meringue Cake
  3. Refined Strawberry Shortcake
  4. Party Cake Pops
Visit our members to see what cake choice they baked up! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Screwing Around

Time can be a destroyer or a healer...strange that it works both ways.

This month we are focused on the destroyer aspect as Sweetie and I have begun to rebuild the back deck that we first built together over 25 years ago. Many rainstorms and lots of sun have aged the wood and in some cases weakened it. It's sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. We take some of the old apart and figure out what can stay and what needs replacing and if anything can be improved on in the process. So far we have added a couple of posts for additional handrails,  a bow to our advancing age...the deck isn't the only thing that has been affected by time. We've also decided to try leaving off a railing on the lower level and to leave off a step connecting the middle level with the lower level. There are still steps to each, but we were often a bit anxious about it when we had folks seated at tables on the middle easy to scoot a chair too far back and have it go lower unexpectedly. Now there will be railing around much of the middle level which will actually feel nicer.

Twenty five or so years ago the quality of redwood available for decks was far superior to what is around today. We checked out a number of suppliers and none of them had anything as clear or with few small knots like there was then. It's too bad, but I suspect that with the major fires last October, there has been a run on materials and it's hard to keep up with demand.

We have discovered that we can also only work about 4-5 hours a day on the deck instead of 7-9 when we were so much younger. Being retired means that it really doesn't matter. Pi doggie really enjoys having us there since hanging out on the upper back deck has been his preference for many months now. He is keeping an eye on us and making sure we do good work.

I do hope to post a lovely cake in the next day or two since the 20th of the month is reveal day for the Cake Slice Bakers. Probably won't have a ton of other posts on food since the project takes precedence over baking and most cooking, too.

The healing aspect of time has been in evidence lately, too. On Tuesday we remembered our son Max, lost 19 years ago on July 17th in an auto accident. The loss is still great and sometimes overwhelming, but the years have taught us how to deal with it and healing has happened, too. Come August 12th, his birthday, we will celebrate all that he meant to us and to others while he was alive. In the meantime, we miss you Max, every day.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Singing Hinnies with the Bread Baking Babes

This has been a hot summer for us. Lots of days in the high 80s, the 90s, even a couple triple digits ones. As you might note if you look at other recent posts, not a lot of baking is going on. When it was time for me to select a recipe for July as the Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month, I decided to go with something that didn't require an oven. I'm not the only one of us contending with high temperatures!

One of the oddly named recipes that I have been meaning to try for a while is Singing Hinnies. So for July we will be making Singing Hinnies. What on earth are those you might wonder. Well, they are a scone-like griddled bread from Northumberland in Northern England.

"There are many thoughts about the derivation of the name but I’m sure it is the noise they make as they cook.  Apparently a mother explained to her daughter that they would soon be ready as she could hear them singing.  She then referred to her daughter as ‘hinnie’ – a Northumbrian term of endearment, hence the ‘singin’ hinnie’." Thus wrote Laura Fitzpatrick of the blog Hello Eco Living

I mainly used her recipe, with a few variations, plus there are suggestions below for making your own changes. If you are going to be a Bread Baking Buddy, and I hope that you do that, the only requirement is that they are scone-like and contain a fruit like currants or raisins and that they are cooked by griddling.

They are the perfect breakfast  or tea time treat and come together in less than 30 minutes using pantry staples. You can use all butter or margarine, or use part butter and part lard if you have a good supplier of lard. You can use a food processor to pulse the cold fat into the flour mixture before adding the currants and mixing the rest by hand in a bowl, or use the traditional method of rubbing the fat in by hand or cutting it in using a pastry cutter or two knives...your choice.

Another choice is to add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to the flour mixture and then add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the milk before adding it to the flour mixture after the fat is cut in. This will probably produce a slightly higher singing hinnie, but it might take longer to cook. A key element here is a cast iron skillet or a griddle or similar cooking surface that is heated on a low heat. Mine was at the perfect temperature when, as I flipped the hinnies to the second side, they 'sang' from the fat particles hitting the hot griddle. That will happen if it is too hot, also, but not if the heat is too low (which is what I had at first...that's how I know).

Do handle the dough lightly and minimally as you would a scone or biscuit mixture to keep them from being tough. Cut straight down with your round cutter and don't twist so that they will rise well. I found that I needed a full 9 tablespoons of milk to wet the dry ingredients so that they would hold together to be rolled out. I rolled them to a half inch thickness. They do puff up a bit when they cook and thicker might make it harder to griddle them fully without burning the outsides.

These are delightful, rather like a rich but thinner scone. The griddled part gets a nice browned butter flavor and the currants give a bit of sweetness. I used a small fork to split a couple of them and added more butter, but decided that I preferred them unsplit, just as they are when they come off the griddle. They are very tender on the inside and just a bit crisp on the outside. Do eat them while still warm! Jam and butter are optional. Tea goes really well with these.

Be sure to check out the other Bread Baking Babes for their take on this rich little goodie. If you go to Web View of this blog, the links to their blogs are on the right, down a little way.

If you'd like to become a Buddy and get one the beautiful badges that Elizabeth created (similar to the one above), just email me at plachman at sonic dot net with a photo and the URL of your post, plus a brief description of your experience making these. The deadline is July 29th. I'll try to post the roundup on August 1.

Singing Hinnies

225grams (8ozs) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams (4ozs) butter (or margarine)
50 grams (2ozs) currants
Milk to mix to a dough (about 6-9 tablespoons)

Sift the flour and baking powder (and baking soda if using) into a bowl.  Rub in the fat (or cut in with pastry blender or two knives) and stir in the currants.  Add enough milk to make a dough.  Roll out onto a floured tray or board and cut with scone or biscuit cutter into rounds of chosen size, usually about 3 inches wide.
Heat pan (griddle or cast iron skillet work well) and lightly grease.  Place scones onto griddle on a very low heat so that the scones can cook very slowly.  Turn once and cook on other side.  To check that they are cooked remove one of the scones and tap it gently – it should sound hollow. The top and bottom should be browned but not burnt.
Serve warm, either split and buttered, or not. Strawberry jam should be great with these.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Finished Painting

Just realized that I never posted the finished sea painting that I did for K.  She was here just after the 4th of July for a visit, but taking it home on the plane (the plan) wasn't feasible once we factored in Uber for the ride home from the airport. Too many large items to juggle. The painting about three feet high and 54 inches wide, in three panels. One day soon Sweetie and I will attach the hanging wired to each of the three panels, snug it up in bubble wrap, secure it in a cardboard box and mail it UPS, with fingers crossed.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out, especially since I struggled for so long to figure out how to make it a painting I could love.

Monday, July 09, 2018

English Muffins

Usually I give gifts to folks having a birthday...or at least a card...but I rarely receive a gift from the birthday boy or girl. I guess that just goes to show you that I know have the best friend ever. We met for coffee and tea for her birthday and she arrived with a charming packet, wrapped in a checked cloth, which was a gift for Sweetie and me. Of course I had a card and gift for her, but this was unexpected to also get a gift and it was such a great gift...homemade English Muffins.

K was home, so we enjoyed them for breakfast with a nice fruit salad and some tea and coffee and peach preserves. Delicious!

Since I didn't make them I don't have the recipe. Michele did a wonderful job. They had no dairy and were perfect after their time in the toaster after being split in half.

The sun was shining and we ate outside and enjoyed the summer garden with all the colors of the flowers. Thank you Michele!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Blueberry Muffins - #TheCakeSliceBakers extra

Since the late fall The Cake Slice Bakers have been baking from The Perfect Cake and posting on or after the 20th of the month. Often we have also had another cake cookbook to choose a recipe from with the rule being that it has to be posted by the 19th of the month. Something has always gotten in the way of my baking that extra recipe, but this month, July, I did!  Happy 4th of July!

I love to bake with seasonal fruits. July is the season for blueberries and our market had them on sale, too. Lovely, purple-blue fat juicy blueberries seemed perfect for blueberry muffins. Our 'extra' cookbook, Maida Heatter's Cakes has a great recipe for blueberry muffins. Muffins are, essentially, small cakes. I made that even more apparent by baking them in giant muffin tins. The muffins came out of the pan looking like little cakes bursting with cooked blueberries and their juices, with a nice browned top and tender interior.

As I often do, I made a few changes. Besides the size of the pans, I also substituted 1/2 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds) for the same amount of flour. Instead of adding the lemon zest with the wet ingredients, I rubbed the zest into the sugar before adding the sugar/zest to the dry ingredients. Since dairy is a no-no for me, I used soy milk instead of regular milk and non-dairy margarine, melted, instead of the melted butter. Finally, I sprinkled some sanding sugar over the tops of the unbaked muffins right before they went into the oven.

When I was younger and could burn off the calories more quickly, I would have blueberry muffins quite a few times in the summer when they are in season. Now I'll probably only have them this one time... a much appreciated seasonal treat. We'll still enjoy them with our morning yogurt or cereal of course and in a fruit mixture with other delicious summer fruits. But blueberry muffins this good should be baked often, so, dear reader, it's up to you. They do freeze well after all. Just remember, when mixing the wet into the dry ingredients, mix as little as possible and gently for the most tender, delicious blueberry muffins!

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 regular or about 5 super sized

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (half stick, 1/4 cup) butter or margarine, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup milk or soy milk or almond milk
about 1 tablespoon sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oven rack should be in center of oven. Use paper liners if you desire, or butter the muffins cups, even if pans are nonstick.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the granulated sugar in a mound over this combination and add the grated lemon zest on top of the sugar. Using clean fingers, rub the zest into the sugar. You will smell the lemon oils being released into the sugar and will see the sugar become moist. Once zest is rubbed in, whisk all the dry ingredients together until fully combined. Add the dry blueberries and use your finger to lightly mix them with the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a small bowl place the lightly beaten egg. Add the butter and milk and use a fork to combine thoroughly. Gently make a well in the dry ingredients center and pour in the wet ingredient combination. Using the fork, gently and quickly combine the wet and dry using as few strokes as possible until just mixed.

Use a small measuring cup or disher to fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full with the batter. If desired, lightly sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Test for doneness. Pressing lightly on the tops in the center will cause them to spring back after pressing when done. If needed bake another 2-5 minutes.

Place baked muffins, in tin(s), on a cooling rack for ten minutes. Use a table knife or small offset spatula to carefully remove the muffins from the tin and set them right side up. Muffins in paper cups will be easy to remove, but you may need to use the knife if they have stuck to the tin.

Serve warm or cooled. Usually no additional butter is necessary.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Rice Shaped Pasta in a Salad

We had a neighborhood BBQ a week ago Saturday and the following Tuesday I was wondering what I was going to do with the big package of mulit-colored bell peppers that I had purchased at Costco. I'd been planning on roasting them and having that as a side dish, but I ran out of time (bet that has never happened to you!) so there they were in the fridge taking up space and getting older.

I decided to roast them anyway and use them in a side dish for Tuesday dinner. A nice onion was still in the pantry, so I peeled that and added it, plus there were some mini carrots and some sugar snap peas from the veggie tray to add. Since I had some freshly picked garden zucchini, a couple of those went in, too.

 My favorite way to roast veggies is to remove all necessary seeds and cores and ends (for zucchini for example), cut them into bite sized pieces and shake them all together in a plastic bag with olive oil, salt and pepper. This time I used my counter top oven since it was a hot day and heating up the whole oven to roasting temperature would be insane. That meant that the roasted veggies went into two foil lined shallow pans to roast at 475 degrees F. I cooked them for 15 minutes, then switched pans top and bottom and rotated them, too. After another five minutes I used a pancake turner to turn the veggies over. Then it was just a matter of keeping an eye on them and removing them once they had browned on the edges and were soft.

So what did I do with them once they were cooled? Half went into a storage container for a later meal.

The other half went into a pasta salad made with cooked orzo (rice shaped pasta) with a citrus based dressing. I also added a diced Roma tomato and some chopped cucumber for crunch. It was delicious! The recipe was loosely based on one by The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I included the basil, but left out the feta and changed the veggies some. Delicious and a great way to include veggies in your meal!

I've been spending quite a bit of time in the garden and also in my art studio. The painting that I've been working on...a almost done!  Maybe I'll get back to baking soon. No time for it at the moment.