Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring 2012 Herb Update

Here at our new house we have a shed, so I was able to store my herbs in there rather than in the house this past winter.  Unfortunately, I didn't remember to have Hubby put them in the shed until sometime in December.  So they got snowed on several times, and were encased in ice for a while.  Then after they were safely stowed in the shed, I forgot to water them for the rest of the winter!

Once the weather warmed up enough to melt most of the snow, I asked Hubby to get them out again.  I really wasn't sure if they had survived.  It still took me a few more weeks before I was able to get out there and trim all the dead stuff off.  Here they are before the trim.  They look pretty dismal, don't they?
As I was cutting the sage I discovered that it, at least still had a tiny bit of life in it!  Thankfully I still have plenty of dried sage leaves in my kitchen, so I'll be able to let it grow uninterrupted for most of the summer.
However, I didn't find anything living on the mint.  Time will tell if it comes back.  I honestly won't mind having to replace it though.  It's never been as fragrant as I'd like, so I'm sure I can find another variety that I like better.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Tragedy of the Teddy Bear Cake

We had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate a very important, and special birthday last week. Little Angel Cakes 1st! A few months ago I asked my mom if I could borrow her sitting teddy bear cake pan for the birthday party.  It hadn't been used for over 20 years, so naturally she was very happy that it could be used again.

Last Tuesday my parents arrived and after dinner I took the box of cake mix I'd been saving and we made the cake.  But apparently sometime in the last 20 years the amount of batter that a cake mix makes has been reduced.  So the poor bear came out with only half a foot; which fell off as soon as the pans were removed.
So the next morning mom came back up early and we used 2 box mixes.  One yellow, and one chocolate.  We didn't need to put all of both of them in, but mom wanted to be sure that the pan would be filled completely, and we figured that any extra would run out the top anyway leaving the inside filled. 
Well, it certainly ran out the top!  The problem was that too much ran out and that the cake wasn't getting cooked inside.  We left it in the oven for an extra 20 min (60 min total).
Here you can see that while the cake has feet, too much ran out around the support column.  I was in the shower at the time so my husband, Zack got the unlucky job of trying to determine if it was done, and removing the cake pan.
He got the front off easily, but the back piece wasn't going anywhere.  But then the real tragedy struck.  Scroll down to watch what happened next!  I'm so glad he had the camera ready!

Yep, that the poor teddy's head falling off!
It turned out that even though the toothpick tested it done at the top, deeper inside and especially around the support the batter was still completely raw!

It was now 10:30 in the morning, the time when my mom and sister-in-law, Heather, were originally to arrive to help me ice the cake.  My parents were staying at my in-laws so I called my mom up again and explained what had happened.  After talking it over with my mother-in-law they decided that the best thing to do at this point was to make one more batch of cake batter, this time from scratch, and bake it in one of my mother-in-laws cake pans.  After it was cooled they'd bring it to our house so Heather and I could decorate it.

My mom had, to my knowledge, never made a cake from scratch before, though she is very accomplished in all other ares of baking.  After getting the batter mixing (it had to beat for 7 minutes) she was rereading the recipe one more time and discovered that she had put 4 cups of cake flour in, instead of 3, and 1 1/2 cups of milk instead of 1 1/4!  But, God was at work, and the cake came out wonderfully and baked perfectly!

So while I didn't get to make the teddy bear cake, I was still able to decorate my little Angel's cake after all.  And it came out beautifully!  Thank you so much to my mom, Liz, mother-in-law, Chris, for making this cake possible.  And to Heather for helping me decorate it.