let’s bake a cake.

Image

gluten free white velvet birthday cake.

for a special boy turning nine

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose gluten free flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening; I used solid Crisco (at room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality vanilla extract (if you want a pure white cake, use clear vanilla extract)
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (at room temperature)
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Grease and flour 2 eight inch round cake pans and line the bottom with 2 circles of parchment paper. (for this cake I used one larger pan)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening, sugar and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy
  4. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.
  6. I always add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. End the additions with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the two prepared 9 inch cake pans.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

frost with dairy free marshmallow frosting:

  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp cream of tarter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer or when a teaspoonful of the mixture dropped into ice water forms a soft ball that holds its shape when cool.

Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract to soft peaks in a large bowl. Keeping the mixer on medium high speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the egg white bowl in a thin stream. Continue to whip the frosting until it forms stiff peaks.

Frost your cake immediately while it is still slightly warm, this is much easier as it gets sticky when it cools.

Image

Image

Image

serve to a happy birthday boy (or girl).

beds.

the last morning with these two boys, in my tiny studio apartment on the Hudson River, I told them they could only watch a movie if they made my bed.

“we don’t know how to make a bed!”

figure it out, I told them. and you need to do it together, with no fighting.

it was a big bed, a king, with lots of pillows, two blankets and a quilt. they struggled for a few minutes, and then put their heads together and sure enough….they made that bed. I hope they take that lesson with them, and realize that by working together, they can face any challenge, and get things done if they stick by each other, as a team.

Imagenow, here I am in Ohio and making new beds. of the garden variety.

the plan calls for five raised beds (one for herbs, up near the house and the remaining four down near the stream will hold vegetables of all kinds)

as we planned them out; measuring, estimating, researching costs…we realized that the largest expense would be the wood to frame out the beds. finding old wood seemed like the best solution. and just as we asked for it, the Universe (or garbage day) supplied it in the form of a neighbor ridding himself of a picket fence. the pickets were the perfect, pre-cut size and add an adorable home-made re-purposed farm look to the boxes.

Image

we ordered up some good clean dirt and got to filling our herb garden box. my nephew was in his glory. “dirt!”

Image

planting the first plants…. 

Image

 

the final boxes awaiting their dirt delivery….

Image

and this old guy just enjoying being in the sun (and photo bombing most every shot I seemed to take)….

Image

our team working together to get things done.

 

that time we packed everything we owned in my car, and got the hell out of new york.

(otherwise known as The Day We Became Minimalists Without Even Trying)packedCar

 

2013-14 will be the Years of Change. I’ve moved three times in less than twelve months. From a fourth floor apartment in a building filled with dying old people (literally, dying. when we moved out we were one of only three apartments with viable human life still in them: all previous inhabitants had left feet first). to an amazing high rise on the shores of my beautiful Lake Erie, waking up feeling like it was vacation every day (until I lost my job, and then it became a glorious prison) and then on to the mountain top cabin in the Hudson Valley to care for two motherless boys and their lost father….which slowly turned into a prison of a whole different sort as we realized there is no helping those who won’t help themselves.

which brings us to last week. and the sudden, yet well thought out decision to just throw the towel in on New York and seek refuge in the open arms of my sister and her house full of animals, kids and a blues singer husband.

 

 

welcomeHome

 

so this will be the #summerofhealing (yes, we’ve already discussed a hashtag for it). we’re designing an organic garden, plotting out a wildflower area and chopping firewood. and naps, lots of naps….most of them on the porch, some in the hammock.

the lesson learned from the past year (so far) is that it is time to take care of myself. (have I said that before?) well, this time I mean it.

sisters.
sisters.