Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sad day? Bake a cake!! And make it CHOCOLATE!!! From scratch!!! Not from a box!!!

     Well, that pretty much sums up what I'm feeling today.  My oldest girl child  is returning to Afghanistan today and I was feeling a little low.  So....what to do?  You guessed it!  I pulled out my all-time-favorite chocolate cake recipe, which by the way was given to me by said child's Godmother, Virginia Lavender, who got the recipe from her Aunt Mary back in the 1920's or so!  And it is D.E.L.I.C.i.O.U.S.!!!  Not too sweet, and very moist.  As a matter of fact, it isn't even served with frosting!  It's baked in a Bundt pan, then all you do is sprinkle Confectioner's Sugar liberally over the top when it's cool to the touch!  Okay, okay.....stop twisting my arm! Here's the recipe:

Aunt Mary's Old New England Recipe for Chocolate Cake
 
 
Ingredients:
 
3/4 cup Crisco shortening, softened (plus enough to grease the pan)
 
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
 
3 squares of melted baking chocolate (I use Baker's brand)
 
4 eggs, brought to room temperature, then beaten (Poor eggs!)
 
1 3/4 cup cake flour (I use Swan's Down)
 
3/4 cup of 2% milk (But....it's better if you use whole milk, and out of this world if you use heavy whipping cream, so choose your poison!)
 
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
 
Pinch of salt (Sorry, I don't know what the official equivalent of a "pinch" is so you'll just have to "pinch" some! I crack myself up!)
 
Confectioner's sugar (Some people call this powdered sugar.)
 
Directions:  Grease a Bundt pan liberally. Do NOT rely on cooking spray! Trust me on this! I speak from experience!  Then liberally flour the pan and set aside.
 
Cream the soft shortening with the sugar, then add the melted chocolate and the poor beaten eggs.  Set this aside.
 
In a large mug, add baking soda and salt to the milk and stir.
 
Add the milk mixture and the sifted cake flour alternately to the other ingredients, stirring well after each addition.  I usually do this in about three turns.
 
Pour the mixture into the Bundt pan, evenly spreading it around.  Pop it into an oven that's been pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for approximately 40 minutes.
 
The cake is done when a narrow knife inserted in the center comes out clean. I have a cake tester thingy that I use for this; it looks like an 8 inch long thick needle with a handle on the end.  It works great and.....better yet, it was cheap!!  But.....back in the day, they used broom straws (hopefully cleaned!) so use whatever you normally use.
 
After it's done, remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert it upside down onto a large serving plate.  When it's completely cool, sift confectioner's (powdered) sugar liberally over the entire top!
 
Sit down with a nice, hot cup of tea or......a tall ice cold glass of milk!  And E.N.J.O.Y.!!!!!
 
Here is a photo of said cake, AFTER it was attacked by a pack of starving buzzards!! 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's wishing you all a lovely Monday!
 
May God bless! Jan
 
 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I'm Back!! Hello? Are you there? Anyone? Knock! Knock!

I've been sitting here, looking at this blog for half an hour now, wondering how in the blue blazes I'm ever going to get started again!?!?  Let's face it; the last post was in January 2014 for Heaven's sake!! So...........how do I get started again?  Tell you what . . . . I'll just start typing and see where that leads.  Poor you! That is, if anyone is still out there!

The BIGGEST news is - God willing - I'm retiring in January 2016!! I'm almost afraid to put it into print because I don't want to jinx it!  I've always been told that I'll know when it's time.  And if I have any choice in the matter, the time is NOW (Okay, 30 January 2016, if I must wait!).  I have the usual List of Things to Do After Retirement.  Are they the same as yours?  Mine are:

1.  More time creating items for my on-line shop, www.fursdonhouse.etsy.com, which of course includes more time on this blog and Facebook, to help promote said shop! I've got ideas out the ying yang of things I want to make, things I've already made and need to get posted, etc. etc. etc. By the way, I wonder what a "ying yang" is? Hmmmmm.........oh well, I digress. Back to the list!

2.  Learning how to be a "housewife" for the first time in 35 years of marriage!  I know this sounds slightly old-fashioned, but I've never been a housewife only and, quite frankly, I'm looking forward to it! I think!  And being a housewife encompasses the following on my ever growing list:

     a.  Clean my house - from stem to stern, top to bottom, sideways, forward and backwards, and everything in between.  There! I think that about covers it!  And by cleaning, I mean going through every drawer, every closet, every shelf, every little nook and cranny - to sort through, purge, organize, and ......well, you get the picture.  Ever since we stopped moving with the military, we've been accumulating.  And trust me  -  I can accumulate!!

     b.  Cooking.................did I really say that? Oh well.............It's not that I'm a bad cook. I'm a decent one as cooks go. I just HATE doing it!! So no grand promises on this one!  I've always loved to bake, but cooking is just a C.H.O.R.E..............and it's a B.O.R.I.N.G. one at that!!  But I'm hoping that by some miracle, I might actually learn to like doing it - at least a little more than I do now. Hey, miracles do happen, you know!!  Like I said though - NO PROMISES!!

Okay, that's enough for the housewife bit. Now on to something more exciting!! 

3.  Revamping my screened in porch.  We have lots of wicker out there, in various shades of tan and brown.....ugh!  I've been thinking along the lines of Victorian white wicker, which I L.O.V.E., but not a stark white. I'm thinking of a warmer, creamy white, which should look great with all those cushions I bought a few years back.

4.  Gardening........did I really say that too?  Yikes! What's gotten into me?!?!?  I mean, gardening wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the Alabama State Bird (AKA The Mosquito), or the nasty Alabama humidity, or the dirt and grime, or the muscle aches and pains, or the sunburn, or..........Okay, okay......no HUGE promises on that one either.  But I'm determined to help Wonderful Husband, who is the TRUE gardener of this family.  I figure I'll go out about 7:00 am every morning, and work an hour or so.  Well.....it sounds good in theory at any rate!

5.  I did plan on taking my alarm clock and SMASHING it to ITY BITTY BITS!!!  But then I wouldn't be able to get out and garden at 7:00 am every morning.   Hmmmmmm................ :-)

6.  Start going to the grocery store in the middle of the day!!  And...........TAKING MY TIME!!  I usually go after work (Ugh!), or on my preciously guarded weekend time, then racing through it like the Indy 500, getting the same old things I always get because it's faster and easier, then wondering why I don't like to cook much!

 Okay.....enough of this list thingy.  It's getting old.  So here are some photos I've taken recently (or rather, in the last year!), and most of these are listed on my Etsy shop at www.fursdonhouse.etsy.com . Now, if I can just remember how to load photos on this thing!  Hmmmm........let's try THIS!

Hey! It worked!! Check these out!

"Let Them Eat Cake"
 
This is a fabric collage I did awhile back, called .....you guessed it! Let Them Eat Cake!  It consists of vintage and new laces and beads, vintage paper leaves, and a few other "bits and bobs".  I created the whole thing on a canvas board thingy that's about 8 x 10 inches.  As you can obviously see, I haven't framed it yet.  I think I'm reluctant to because I like to see it and touch it whenever I walk into the studio.  And you can't get that tactile feeling when it's in a frame.  But I just L.O.V.E. it. I'm thinking of incorporating them into some of the tea cozies I design.  I did make a tea cozy with a similar design on it for a sweet friend of mine; turned out pretty cool!  I'll try to find a picture of it.  Or perhaps I'll just add them to my Etsy shop "as is", or framed.  Who knows. 

 
 
Another collage!  The base is a vintage linen place mat and I've just had fun adding bits and pieces, some new and some vintage, as well as a little embroidery.  Although it's currently listed "as is" in my Etsy shop, I'm thinking of incorporating it into something else, like having it as a front panel of a sewing machine cover.  Lots of plans and little time!  Such is everyone's plight though! 

 
 
A sweet little brooch I made, using antique millinery flowers, lace, and tiny fresh water pearls.  It has a pin back on the reverse.  My first try and I have to admit, I was rather pleased with it!


I had great fun making this fabric strip banner for a friend of mine. She commissioned it for her granddaughter, to hang in her bedroom.  It ended up about 4 1/2 feet long and, as you can see, was a "Symphony in PINK!!"  It was very easy and ripping those strips of fabric was GREAT therapy!!



Some of the latest tea cozies I've made; I've done others as well.  I've come up with an improved method of making them, which I'm very excited about.  Cuts down on the time and is actually easier to stitch. 


One last photo for now.  These are hearts I've created.  They're generally about 7-8 inches long by 5-6 inches wide, and each one has a hanging cord.  I love to hang these on the fronts of large pieces of furniture, instead of tassels.  The heart shape is one of my favorites!

Well, that's it for now.  I need to get this posted.  Hopefully you haven't fallen asleep!

Love and Blessings to All!

Jan of Fursdon House