Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Family Photo Album

Our visit with grandbabies is almost over. Despite the influenza epidemic we've had some wonderful times.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mango Pineapple Cake Filling

The other day I had an order for a retirement cake. The request for was for lemon buttermilk cake with tropical fruit filling. Tropical fruit filling is on my website's flavors page but no one has ever asked me for tropical fruit filling. So.....I needed to figure out how I was going to make a tropical fruit filling.

I decided on mangos and pineapple and ruled out bananas and coconut. I have found that organic mangoes ripen better and sweeter than conventionally grown mangoes so I should remember to only get organic. Next time.

I thought the best filling would simply be a type of jam or preserve made just like my berry jams but with tropical fruit. I peeled and cut the mango into chunks and used my processor to chop it more finely.

This was about two cups of finely chopped mango. I added it to a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple with the juice into a sauce pan.

I then added the juice and zest from two limes to add some citrusy acidity to all that sweetness.

After I heated the fruit to a low simmer I stirred in 3/4 cup of sugar in which I had mixed a teaspoon of my favorite jam-making pectin- Pomona's Universal Pectin.

I had never used Pomona's with any kind of tropical fruit so I wasn't sure that it would properly thicken the pineapple but it worked beautifully. I like Pomona's because you can use as much or as little sugar as you want, even no sugar if you prefer, and it still thickens the jam. It is not necessary to use copious amounts of sugar to set the pectic like with other commercial brands. With less sugar in the jam the flavors of the fruit are much brighter and natural tasting.

For a cake filling it was the perfect consistency. It was not too juicy and wouldn't ooze out the sides of the cake layers.

I still used a dam of icing around the edge of the cake. This filling was perfect for the lemon cake but it would be a delicious accompaniment to coconut cake or my orange cake too.

The retirement cake was for an orchard man so I decorated with pears and leaves that I had shaped from fondant. The clients were pleased!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Baby Whisperer

We have a surprising in-house baby handler...

I say surprising because our baby handler is an eleven year old boy.

He can put a baby to sleep...

...and get him snuggly into his bed.

He soothes fussy toddlers.

And.....yes!....he changes diapers!

Even stinky, offensive ones.

I know! Amazing! He's eleven!
He does this voluntarily and without complaint. I don't know why.

And because he is only eleven and (he doesn't like to hear it but....) still a kid...

He comes up with some unique ways to entertain his little charges.

Don't miss that toddler in the back ground unhappy about having to wait for his turn.

He knows how to have a good time.

Do you need a Baby Whisperer? He wants you to know he's available. But only when we're done with him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toddler Time

It's a universal truth.
Toddlers are more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

And just one can make as many messes as a barrel of monkeys, but this is redeemed by his entertainment capacity and his kissability.

Our in-house toddler is a busy boy.
 (Don't be alarmed by this photo. You can't tell by the angle but Evan was more than arm's length from the hot pan.)

He has also inherited our family appreciation for home-made victuals.

Speaking of which...
Last night (Shrove Tuesday) we ate some fabulous jambalaya. The girls made it in a joint effort that resulted in the perfect spiciness and cajun flavors. Pretty great for the first attempt at that dish.

Also yesterday, a surprise in the mail....
Something I'll tell you more about in a future post!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Sign of Spring

There has been nothing to blog about from here. Nothing except fever....headache, lethargy, chills, body aches, sore throat, fever, coughing, inflamed eyeballs, snotty noses, coughing, fever, sleepless nights.....same song second verse a little bit faster and a little bit worse.

Yeah, yeah, I told you all this in the last blog post. But nothing has changed. Nine people down for the count. I'm still the last man standing and I'm waiting for that hammer to come down. In the mean time other family and friends are keeping their distance and we're holed up here except for that excursion for the fancy dinner.

So leaving the latest sickies behind, Katie and I made an escape to the annual big city garden show- on the one Saturday in February when the rest of the state was also emerging in force from hibernation. The traffic was heinous.

But the gardens were luscious. It's hard to believe that these green and blooming displays, with paved pathways, rocky waterfalls and blossoming trees are but a mirage that lasts for only a few days then is dismantled and hauled away. Such a pity.

This garden show had seven gardens with themes from seven countries of the world.

The inspiration from these events is endless. A mobile herb garden/happy hour cart?

And the clay pots! Lots and lots of clay pots!

It makes me want to raid my studio and start drilling holes in pots and rigging water pumps.

But then I remember this is a mirage and there is snow at my studio door.

Then there's the garden art!

Is there anywhere outside the Great Northwest that has this much garden art?

Or blown glass? Be still my heart...

The first sign of spring in Oregon is the garden show.

Winter can leave and take the flu with it!