Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oooh, This Cake.

Pretty impressive.
Pretty. Impressive.
Pretty and impressive.
(Tired of this yet?)
(Sorry-been a lo-o-ong day)

I need to disclose a little something about me at this point,
so you'll understand when I tell you what my significant other
thinks of this cake.

I am the Queen.

I rule in JaneWorld.

The other inhabitants of JaneWorld (those who live there voluntarily and
those who are involuntary like my family) are often the beneficiaries
of my baked largesse.
My sons are usually more than happy (nods to George Carlin)
to be my lab rats. Their friends, too, seem to enjoy being around when
I go on a baking bender. They always give me very positive feedback,
but then they may be a little afraid of me. I've been known to shriek
obscenities when I discover the Seat left up in the bathroom.

Anyhoo, my husband cemented his place in my queenly favor by
making sure I overheard him telling my daughter, "It's really good cake, like
something you'd get in a restaurant!"
To him, this is high praise indeed.

So for now anyway, he is my significant other.
When he gives a more nonchalant review without giving helpful
details, he quickly becomes my Insignificant Other.

But on to the recipe! Give this one a try---your prince consort (or perhaps
court jester?!) will love you for it.

Hot Pink Raspberry Cake
(gleaned from The Kitchn, via Apartment Therapy)


1/2 cup shortening*
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 cups milk
1 red raspberry Jello packet, regular 3 oz. size
1/2 10-oz. pkg. frozen red raspberries, slightly thawed


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease two 9 inch cake pans with butter or baking spray.

Mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed - creaming the softened shortening and sugars first, then adding the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, and finally the milk, gelatin, and raspberries. Using an electric beater, beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, then on high for 3 minutes.
Immediate pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until
the tops spring back slightly when pressed***

Let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes, then flip each pan ov
er onto the rack and tap gently all over. Lift the pan slightly. If the cake doesn't feel like it's falling out smoothly, lay a slightly damp kitchen towel over the pan and tap again. If necessary, let the cakes cool more. If they have been baked thoroughly, however, they should fall right out of the pans once they've cooled a little and the sides of the cake have shrunk back from the pan.***

Cool completely before frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt everywhere.

Hot Pink Raspberry Icing

1 pound confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick)butter, softened
1/2 10-oz. package frozen raspberries, slightly thawed

Combine the softened butter, confectioner's sugar, and reserved half of the raspberries, thawed. Mix together with electric mixer. Spread on cooled cake.

*I used butter-flavored Crisco in stick form---greatest invention since (insert whatever high-tech modern wonder you favor here).

***The baking time on this recipe may be faulty. I baked it for exactly the time printed, but the layers were far from done. I kept checking in five minute increments until it toothpick-tested done.

One last note: I ended up using Blackberry Fusion Jello, a new flavor I noticed at the store. It made the cake a little darker than the raspberry would, I guess, but tasted great.

It's Good For What Ails You

I call these the Good For What Ails You cookies.

To explain that, I need to find a way to word this- well - how can I put this delicately?

They have lots of oatmeal.
Oatmeal is full of fiber.
Fiber is good for...well, you know what.
Facilitating the intricate workings of a human's
physiological inner workings.
Am I being too obtuse?

After all, it happens to the best of us.
And you also have to admit: it's probably the strangest pitch
for a cookie recipe that you've ever come across.

But these cookies have so much going for them, even if you don't have
any trouble "that way".
Oatmeal, white chocolate slivers, and wholesome, energy-packed dried
Michigan cherries.*

It's a win-win situation!
White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries*


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes;
remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Forgive this slightly out of focus picture. I wanted to show you all the
goodness up close and personal, but my own focus was a little off today, let alone
the camera's.

*I used closer to 2 cups of dried cranberries. You could also sub in dried cherries or blueberries.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Signs of The Times?

Our first trip to Roanoke, Virginia was for
Parents Weekend during my step-daughter's junior year.
We had a free couple of hours while she was busy so
we decided to go downtown to a place we'd read about:
Roanoke Marketplace. We explored the area and liked it so well
that this trip, we wanted to spend more time there.

It's a lively section of town, comprised of boutiques, shops, farmers'
market and indoor food court/mall.
The farmers' market lines both sides of a city block, and behind
the stalls are some very unique and interesting shops.

The main building, the Marketplace, holds the food court and a
few shops on two levels.
(Forgive the blur of the overhead lights in the pic below. I'm still learning
about the camera as you can tell.)
This shot is from the upper level looking the length of the building.
We were up there because that's where the ladies' room is-no further
explanation will be necessary, I'm sure, when I tell you I've had four kids.
(stop snickering, I'm serious- I know the location of every restroom
in every major department store chain).

When I say unique and interesting, I mean that you can buy fresh vegetables, recycled glassware, organic soaps, wines local and imported,
choose from an impressive selection of hot sauces, or grab some
BBQ all within a couple of hundred square feet.
We bought a red and yellow rooster marionette (who will be making his
debut in this blog very soon-stay tuned).

My camera skills are developing slowly (no pun meant, but it is brilliant, isn't it?)
like an elderly Polaroid, but when I look over the pictures I took this past weekend,
I can actually see a difference. Who knew learning about the different lens
settings could make your pictures better?!

I didn't start out to make an 'unusual signs' theme of our trip downtown,
but it evolved as I spotted more and more of them.

Arthur's is a restaurant, no less.

I loved these shop signs and it wasn't until I was reading a brochure
about the Marketplace that I discovered that Chocolate Paper is actually
a chocolate boutique.
It horrifies me to admit I never even went in. I was so enthralled
with discovering the rest of the place...I can't believe it even now. Heaven
only knows what cocao heaven I missed. I can't dwell on it or nausea sets in
and I get depressed...

Another gourmet food sign.
I'm pretty sure the word is 'king' but the 'k' is a little hinky.

I have no explanation of this one at all.
But it struck us as funny.

This cow was the first unusual sign we saw. Not only do we
have a soft spot for blues joints and BBQ, but the cow was so compelling!

These last two pictures are ones found 'way up high on some
street near the Marketplace area.
Did you know how Dr. Pepperfied they are down there?
I just assumed that Coca Cola reigned supreme by
virtue of being a Southern state like Georgia, where it was born.
Every restaurant, every bar, may or may not have cola of some
description (Coke or that other swill--see? I'm trying to invite spirited debate
--feel free to join in, but no death threats please-I know
how loyal cola fans can be) but by golly, they'll have Dr. Pepper. Which is fine
by me as I consider it a good second choice.

Anyway, I thought the sign was cool.

I loved this coffee sign. It starts out dark, then different parts of it light
up, one at a time, until coffee comes out of the pour spout and dribbles into
the cup. It doesn't take much to amuse me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

One More Bachelor of Science-biology graduate!

The Big Day

Carly, the proud possessor of a Bachelor of Science degree!

Sorry, but there's no food involved in this one.
Just a milestone for my step-daughter.

My husband and I traveled to Roanoke College
to witness Carly's graduation this past weekend.

(A quick flash to Jane's past: we made several
trips to Virginia during my childhood to visit
one of the old army buddies my dad kept in
touch with in the years since WWII)

I loved the scenery and have always wanted to
spend more time exploring there.

This trip was not the opportunity, however, because of
all the graduation-centered activities scheduled.
But I'll go back someday--oh, yes. I will go back.

Roanoke College is beautiful with its brick-and-cream colonial
facades against the backdrop of the mountains.

The school's athletes are dubbed The Maroons. We have
tried to tell Carly that maroon is a color and not a mascot but
they persist. (And if you add 'ultra' in front of it, it becomes one of the insults
hurled at the bull in the classic cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny and the bullfight. Sorry, I'm a
cartoon freak.) Apparently everything in the campus store
is already engraved, embossed, and printed so it'd be
awkward to change everything at this point.

(Amazing factoid of Roanoke: one building on campus was
designed by Escher, so it has doors that lead nowhere,
and stairs that lead up to the ceiling.)

The only mystery left for us was:

How big does the endowment have to be to compel you
to post this sign?