Blackberry Lemon Pound Cake

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Aug 302012
A few days ago we hit our secret blackberry spot again and picked a couple more pails of blackberries which have been in the fridge since then. I needed to use up at least some of them today and I wanted to try something different than I did last week with cobbler. I googled berry pound cake recipes and one of the recipes I came upon was from the local blog Orangette (Molly Wizenberg). I made a few changes because I wanted to use up the blackberries and also add a lemon/citrus note with zest in the batter and a lemon glaze. Also the original recipe called for a food processor, but I prepared it using a hand mixer with good results.
Blackberry Lemon Pound Cake (adapted from and originally from Bon Appétit, July 1986)

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
5 large eggs

1 1/2 Tbs Disaronno liqueur
Zest from one large lemon (save the lemon juice for the glaze)
2 cups plus 8 Tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 cups blackberries
Glaze: Juice from one large lemon and confectioner’s sugar (enough to make a thick glaze).
Prepare a 9-cup bundt pan by greasing and flouring the pan. 
Rinse the berries (especially if they’re hand-picked), toss them with two tablespoons of flour and set them aside.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating after each egg until combined, then add the liqueur and lemon zest and beat for another minute or so on medium heat until they are well mixed.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture in the large bowl and beat briefly just to combine. Then fold in the floured berries to the mix and pour/scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
Put the pan into a cold oven and turn the oven on to 300 degrees F (I used convection) and bake the cake for 70 minutes – test it at that point and if a skewer or toothpick comes out clean the cake is done. Let the cake cool for five minutes in the pan, and then invert it onto a plate or rack and let it cool completely before glazing it.
For the glaze, put the juice of a large lemon into a bowl and slowly whisk in confectioners sugar until you have a thick glaze (I used about 3/8th cup lemon juice and 1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar but the glaze could have been a bit thicker).
I received two compliments on this cake tonight: one; I left the house to go to dinner with a friend with the cake in the oven and my daughter met me at the door when I came home hours later anxious to try a piece. When she got her slice and I asked her how it was she barely stopped eating to say  yummmm, its good mamma, and two; my husband ate two pieces one after the other. Success!

Time to Overhaul the Bedrooms (Again)

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Aug 292012

My mother-in-law left recently, which means we had a guest room just sitting empty. We debated moving our son back into his own room, but decided for now to keep the kids together in one room and turn the other room into a playroom. Here’s what the room looked like this morning:

After a few hours of work moving furniture around and sorting toys, the room now looks like this:


Since I was able to move some things out of the kids room, I was able to reorganize their room as well (there are no before pictures but imagine complete chaos):

these are simple and cheap magazine holders from Ikea that I’ve used to organize the kids’ activity/coloring books, magazines and drawing pads. Those things used to be stacked up on shelves in a cupboard and they were rarely used because they were too hard for the kids to look through.

Aug 282012

We have a big trip coming up in about 6 weeks and it involves a loooong plane ride, so I’m starting to think about how to entertain the little munchkins while we’re airborne. One thought was to make a small feltboard that I can use to tell a few stories with, and that the kids can play with independently. We have a feltboard version of the Hungry Caterpillar, but the board is huge so I wanted to come up with something smaller and more carry-on friendly. I will still be able to use the felt pieces from the Eric Carle story, but with my own backdrop.

I already had a piece of white felt that measures about 8″ x 11″ so I decided to use that and just paint it with a landscape that could be used for several different stories. I painted on the felt with watercolor paint – its still wet now but I hope that when it dries the felt will still have the ‘sticky’ quality that will allow the felt story pieces to stick to it. I figured that acrylic paint would create a slick layer on top of the felt that would hinder the sticking.

I’ve got a few ideas for felt-board stories – I’m really excited to start working on ‘Stone Soup’ – but does anyone out there have any suggestions for me?

I’m Taking a Little Break

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Aug 272012

I’m still working on things, although nothing very big or noteworthy, but I need to take a bit of a break from posting. Its beginning to feel too much like a chore and not fun, and since there’s no reason to wreck my creative drive by ruining it with chores, I’m going to ease off a bit. It turns out that posting something to this blog every day actually turns into a double project (the actual creative act plus the blog post) and with the new school year looming for both kiddos at two different schools something’s gotta give. I’ll be back soon, however, with more interesting projects. Thanks for reading!

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Aug 192012
We’ve started the tradition of having a pachamanca party at our house each summer. This year was the second year we’ve done it, and it turned out really great – I can only imagine what next year might be like. The basic premise is to dig a hole in the dirt, heat stones over a fire in the pit, add meat and veggies to the hot stones, and bury the whole thing for a few hours to let it cook.
Lots and lots of photos and description after the jump. . . 

The first thing to do in the morning before the guests arrived was arrange the flowers. I bought some individual bunches of flowers at the supermarket and then supplemented with flowers from our garden, mostly with the big beautiful hydrangeas we have.

This arrangement was completely from our garden
All of these flowers were from the supermarket

I brought these glass pop bottles back from Paraguay – they’ve got great names and unusual shapes blown into the bottles (from l to r: Simba, Kandy, Pulp and Mirinda). The flowers are gerbera daisies.
This bouquet is another supermarket/garden mix. The container is an empty olive oil container.

 Next we needed to set up chairs and tables, put out the snacks and drinks, and finish the decorations.

The bar setup: Can you believe this bottle didn’t even get opened?!


Juices and Sodas
Ribbon wrapped around the poles near the Pachamanca pit

 Finally that was all done and the guests began to arrive, which meant we could start the show. The first thing you have to do is dig the hole in the ground: we were lucky because we’d already dug it last year and left it intact (we’d filled it in with bricks and covered it over with dirt to keep water and children out of it).

Next we built a fire (two, actually) to heat the rocks up.

Once the rocks were good and hot it was into the pit, followed by the food.

There was some debate over whether the Incas had the “Ove-Glove

Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes and yellow corn waiting to go into the pit.

After the pit was filled with food it was covered over with banana leaves, then more hot rocks were added to the top, then wet burlap went over that to be covered finally by a mound of dirt.

These guys look like they’re ready for a cold cerveza

Two hours later and this is what we ended up with . . .

The top layer was corn and potatoes

And at the end, all there was left was to clean up.

The aftermath

– Edited to add everything else in this post except this bit “This is just a placeholder post until tomorrow – I’m too exhausted to do it now! ‘nite all!”