Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Perfect Pound Cake

Photo by Lindsey Turner (Flickr: berries and pound cake), via Wikimedia Commons

It's never too early to start planning for March 4, National Pound Cake Day. As a southerner, National Pound Cake Day lives in my heart all year round. My mom's pound cake recipe (see below) always garners praise and is a fail-safe addition to any gathering. I say "fail-safe," but that's assuming you go to the extra effort of springing for cake flour and sifting it (and if you don't have a sifter, you can get one for about $10 at most home supply stores).

Pound cake is versatile--any of the additions below will create a nice variation while preserving what's best about pound cake: its simplicity.  After all, pound cake got its name because of its very basic recipe of one pound each of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs.

Save the ganache for another day, my friends--pound cake will allow you to impress and have time for other things (like, say, watching TV).

Recipe for Perfect Pound Cake
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
1 cup of shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups of cake flour (sift then measure)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk 
2 tsp almond extract (or sub in one of the extracts below)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening until well-blended. Add sugar slowly until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, add salt and baking powder to the flour. Combine milk and extract in a measuring cup. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, alternately with the milk, to the butter mixture. Begin and end with flour. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake and dust with powdered sugar. Serves 12 to 16.

Optional additions (I'd just choose one)
1 tsp orange extract & 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract & 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cranberries
1 cup currants or raisins

Bundt pan
Loaf pan
Fancy molded cake pan (this is a nice, substantial cake that can hold its shape)

According to our friends at Wikipedia, pound cake is traditional across many cultures. In Mexico, raisins or walnuts are added. Wine is added to Colombian cakes. In the UK, they call it sponge cake. In France, quatre-quarts (four-fourths), alluding to the ingredient list. I think this means that National Pound Cake Day is limiting its sights...this is a cake for the whole world to enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

fancy chocolates

I am a Whitman's Sampler girl. My chocolates need not be fancy, but if I did favor gourmet treats, I would want these mice from the chocolatier L.A. Burdick. They make me smile and I am sure they are delicious ....there are penguins, too!

Friday, January 25, 2013

best things at theblackapple

The Etsy shop The Black Apple showcases the distinctive, captivating illustration of Emily Winfield Martin. It is filled with treasures, but there are definitely favorites....check them out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

diy snowglobes

My sister had the sweetest favors at her little girl's first birthday- snowman snowglobes. They were made using polymer clay, glitter, water and baby food jars. There is a simple tutorial to follow at crafts-for-all-seasons.
They make great favors, decorations or an afternoon art project for older children. The end result is awfully cute....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

girls just want to have fun

So, despite the fact that I am breathing down the neck of 40, I tuned into "The Carrie Diaries" the other night. I just can't pass up teen dream (teen dream= genre designed for young adults that is often found charming by those long past their sweet 16) television- especially if it might be halfway decent quality.
  After watching the pilot, I am not sure if I will become a loyal viewer, but I will always credit the show for introducing me to this cover of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Greg Laswell. It is pretty fantastic.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Christian Jackson's Minimalist Children's Posters

These have been making their way across the Internet but I'm reposting them because they are so beautiful and clever. I'm posting my three favorites here but you can see the full fifteen at Visual News or Buzzfeed. Artist Christian Jackson's site can be found here, but I'm taking the broken link to the poster page as a sign that he's been overwhelmed by orders already. Perhaps check back in a few months?

Friday, January 18, 2013

looking forward to Laura




Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection (by John Alexander)
 via chest

As much as I love reading picture books with Sweet Pea - I am so looking forward to when he's a bit older and and we delve into a chapter (or 2!) of a novel before bedtime. And I already know that the Laura Ingalls Wilder series is going to be one of the first we read together. I have so much love for these books. "Little House in the Big Woods" is one of my favorite books of all time and those Garth Williams' illustrations immediately bring me back to my childhood and my city girl dreams of living and playing in those great big open plains and sleeping in a cozy little log cabin. Still sounds like paradise, doesn't it?

via luxist

 via Masha




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

birthday wishes and a keychain

If only I had spied this Dowager Countess keychain would have been a happy birthday indeed, but alas Vivi, you must settle for my warm birthday wishes and the knowledge I think you are awesome enough to pull this accessory off...happy 38!

Friday, January 11, 2013

oh deer

Now that I'm back in town for good, Lorelei and I are committing to making holiday gifts together. This year we made these lovelies and we are already thinking about next year. More to the point - I'm procrastinating by thinking about next year. Not to spoil the surprise of what her creativity and my grunt work will create, but I hope it will involve some sort of image of a deer because that's all I've been researching lately. (Is it too late for a resolution to get a grip on my serious procrastination skills?). Here, for your pleasure, is the end result of me avoiding work - a round-up of deer images! (And, yes, I've already done a round-up of deer pictures - I know this about myself and I embrace it.)

Frida Kahlo via Time is Art 

via julia.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

dark chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies

I needed a baked good birthday gift for my brother-in-law. Even though I had never tried these before, I glad that I did!

Recipe courtesy of
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/4 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets with vegetable shortening.
2.Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually blend into the batter. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer the cookies to cooling racks.   

Monday, January 7, 2013

Edward Gordon's Winter

Artist Edward Gordon paints glimpses of interiors and snapshots of the landscape in such a precise manner that the result is nearly hyper realistic. His attention to detail is incredible, his technique impressive, but it his ability to perfectly convey a sense of time, space and season that is his major accomplishment.
His wintertime works capture the cold, stark, yet serene stillness of the chilly months. Amazingly, he is able to paint characterizing moments of all the seasons....but these days I am in a snowy state of mind and these pieces are too.

Friday, January 4, 2013

something that makes me laugh...and stings just a little :)

"That's the funny thing about marriage, you fall in love with this extraordinary person and over time they begin to seem ordinary.... I think it's all the nagging."- Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

Thursday, January 3, 2013

fair isle forever

To a lot of folks, it may just look too 80's preppy, but I can not get enough Fair Isle ( n. (Clothing & Fashion) an intricate multicoloured pattern knitted with Shetland wool into various garments, such as sweaters [named after one of the Shetland Islands where the pattern originated]- thefreedictionary).

From the simplest pattern to the craziest arrangement- it makes the perfect piece of winter garb. I love the bold color combos and the soft, cozy muted ones all the same....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

hot chocolate bar

I am very much on board with the new trend in winter parties....the hot chocolate bar. I love that it can be appropriate at everything from a child's birthday party to a fancy wedding reception- just depends on how you present it.
Chef Giada De Laurentiis has pointers on what to have on hand for your own hot chocolate bar, but certainly there are so many ways to make the unique and delicious!


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