Sunday, November 30, 2008

Essentials For Great Cake Baking

I have to confess that I've only been baking for a few years now, but have learned (mostly through trial and error) that proper preparation, tools and ingredients make for a much better cake. So I thought I'd start this week's blog by giving everyone 20 important essentials I've learned for baking great cakes. Although these ideas can be used for other cooking as well, they are essential to great cakes. They are not in any certain order, but each one is important. Following as many of these as possible will make your baking so much more pleasurable.

1. Make sure you have all the ingredients BEFORE you begin and that they are as fresh as possible. Eggs should be Grade A Large and butter should be full fat and unsalted. Do not substitute margarine.
2. Have all ingredients measured and in order of use before you start.
3. READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS completely BEFORE you begin.
4. Bring ingredients to room temperature before you begin.
5. Don't be rushed.
6. If time permits, bake one day then assemble & frost the next. Freezing the layers make them easier to frost too.
7. When measuring flour DO NOT PACK into the measuring cup. Use another utensil to dip flour and pour into measuring cup, leveling the top with the edge of a flat object such as the edge of a knife.
8. Dry ingredient cups are NOT the same as liquid. Make sure to have each style.
9. When adding the dry & wet ingredients (like flour or milk) always start and end with the dry.
10. Do not over beat flour after adding. Beat only until well incorporated or your cake will be tough.
11. All flour is not the same and most are not interchangeable. All-Purpose is the most used flour for baking cakes. Whole Wheat flour is heavier than All-Purpose and Cake Flour is very, very light. Then there is Self Rising- save it for other baking. Always use the flour called for in a recipe and make sure to check the expiration date.
12. Baking soda and baking powder are NOT the same. They are interchangeable in other recipes but not so much in cakes. Make sure to use the correct one.
13. Regular granulated sugar is better than super fine sugar for baking cakes. Super fine makes better frosting and pastries.
14. Always bake your cakes on the center rack in the middle of the oven.
15. When prepping the inside of a pan for a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour. It works just as well and keeps the sides of the cake from turning white.
16. When baking more than one of the same cake at the same time, it is best not to double the ingredients. Just start fresh with each cake.
17. I find a hand held electric mixer works better than a stationary mixer for getting all the ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl.
18. Metal baking pans are better for even baking than glass pans.
19. Try to get the best pans you can afford. A better pan makes a better cake. If you can't afford them right away, do like I have done. Buy one every other month. By the end of the year you'll have great pans for great cakes!
20. Never make plans for a new cake recipe to be served to guests the same day. In other words experiment with a new recipe only when you are not using the cake right away.
ENJOY! I hope these helpful hints make your baking as much fun as it has mine.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Cakes

(Chocolate Mousse Cake)
This upcoming week I'll be featuring holiday cakes! My favorites are Orange Essense Pound Cake and Holiday Pineapple Carrot Cake. So stay tuned and have a great weekend! Yummies are coming.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Long Yet Truly Thankfull Thanksgiving

Well Thanksgiving is over and I have a lot to be thankful for. This week started out with so much excitement knowing that my two younger daughters would be home for the holiday and that I would be traveling to see my ailing mom and dad this weekend. But God had other plans. Tuesday night, my mother had to be rushed to the hospital and then life flighted from Spalding Hospital in Griffin GA to Crawford Long in Atlanta for emergency heart surgery early Wednesday morning. We were all terrified due to the nature of the illness & surgery and were informed that the surgery might prove to be fatal. So, much prayer was given up by so many and God answered them. Mom came through as the best case scenario was played out. We were all able to continue with most of our Thanksgiving plans offering up an extended thank-you to God & his blessings.
Then one of the daughters unfortunately could not come due to work. Having to stay until an unbelievably late hour of the morning and too exhausted, she called to let us know she would not be coming.
As we were enjoying our Thanksgiving meal, my husband got strangled on something and lost consciousness and blacked out. We had to call for an ambulance, but by the grace of God, our youngest daughter was able to help him and he spat out the lodged food and was able to breathe again- wow what a scary moment that was!!!
Then today Mom underwent another surgery to remove a "port" in her arm where her blood is filtered for dialysis. The doctor was expecting to have to permanently remove this port and place one on her neck due to horrible infection in the arm, but again, miraculously they were able to install another one in the arm! God is so good and gracious. She is now recovering and according to her nurses in the ICU, has become a member of the "Clean Plate Club"! Praise God for all He gives! Please pray with us this week as she may be going through a third surgery on her leg. Thank you all in advance and to God be all Glory & Praise!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Aunt Elizabeth & Momma Cook's Country Potato Salad

This recipe is the most requested family recipe on my side of the family! I have 4 other siblings and between us there are 12 nieces & nephews, plus some of them have spouses and of course boyfriends and girlfriends and there are now 7 great-grandchildren and one on the way. And of course our parents. They are both still alive but mom is not in good health. Anyway my entire family comes to our home for Christmas and we have been doing it this way since 1983! We have shared so many funny stories & I'll share a special one closer to Christmas. Now my honey & I always provide all the food except the occasional dessert. But my sister Elizabeth must bring the potato salad. The potato salad is my mom's famous recipe and now it's Elizabeth's. It doesn't matter if she is sick, exhausted or in the middle of a crisis she must bring the potato salad. NO ONE has ever made it as good as she does. We all have the recipe, but she has the touch! So here it is.
Cook Family Famous Potato Salad
10 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cooked until just fork tender
1 tall jar of chopped olives with pimentos
1 dozen hard boiled eggs
3 small onions finely chopped
1 small jar of dill pickle cubes (not relish)
1 small jar of sweet relish
Kraft Mayonnaise- at least 1/2 jar or more as needed
To taste: celery salt, onion powder, salt & pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix potatoes and eggs (saving two eggs for decoration on top). Mix all the other ingredients and add to potato mix. Mix well and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twice Baked Potatoes

Today's Recipe is not my favorite to make. But it is one of the family favorites and I get whining every time I leave this off the menu. It's just that it takes so long to do & I don't have patience to wait for them to cool and inevitably burn my fingers & hands when preparing. But here is the recipe and it is so good.

Twice Baked Potatoes
1- large baker for each person, washed and dried
olive oil
coarse sea salt
1 tbsp of butter per potato
1 tbsp of sour cream per potato
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp of real shredded Parmesan cheese, per potato
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub each potato with olive oil and rub in the salt. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 1+ hour or until pierces easily with a fork. (DO NOT MICROWAVE THE POTATOES, they will not taste the same) Remove from oven and unwrap. Let cool enough to handle. When cooled enough, carefully remove the top portion of skin from the potato and carefully scoop out most of the pulp and place a large bowl. Add the butter and sour cream needed for each potato and salt & pepper if needed, then mash together. Carefully pipe the mixture back into each potato and sprinkle the shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Place in a casserole dish & place back into the oven and heat long enough to melt the cheese. Serve immediately

Sweet n Sour Carrots

Sweet-N-Sour Carrots
2 pounds of baby carrots
1 can of pineapple cubes with juice
1/2 cup of pineapple juice
1/2 red or orange bellpepper, diced
1 green bellpepper, diced
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of Soy Sauce

Cook carrots until tender but not mushy. Drain. Add all the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 mintes or until the bellpeppers are crisp tender.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God's Blessings or Consequences

Have you ever wondered why God chooses to allow bad things happen in life? Why our children do not follow our guidance, why the world chooses to practice unethical behavior, why good people do stupid corrupt things. I was strongly convicted today by our lessons from the book of II Samuel. It spoke of King David's plight because of his betrayal to God through his adulteress affair with Bathsheba and the resulting murder of her husband. David went for a long time thinking he had gotten away with his sins. Then God sent Nathan to tell David a story of a farmer who owned a small little baby sheep. The sheep was as a child to the farmer. He cared and loved the small helpless sheep and gave it so much love and care as that of a family member. Then there was another man who owned thousands of sheep and cared for them as a herder only. The second man had a visitor come for dinner and instead of taking one of his many sheep for a meal he stole the first man's family pet and fed it to the guest. The farmer was devastated.
This story infuriated King David and David said the second man would have to pay 4 fold for the other man's loss and as their custom, should be put to death for stealing. Nathan told David, "You are the second man David. Your God in heaven has given you so much. You have many wives yet you stole the wife of another man. The only wife he had. He was a loyal servant to you and you betrayed him and had him murdered." This made King David reflect on his sins and repented & confessed his sin to God. God granted immediate forgiveness, yet because of David's sin, sentenced him to a life of misery and sadness for him & his children to follow, starting with the death of David's new son from the affair with Bathsheba. David was God's chosen one. His beloved. God would have done anything for David had he asked. He would have given him the world without limitations if only David had stayed in God's will. But because he strayed he was ultimately punished. God is holy & just to forgive us of our sins if we confess and are truly sorry for them, but that does not necessarily keep us from facing the consequences of them. We can have the sins erased, but not the penalty nor the hurt and pain that our sins cause others!
So each and every minute we must strive to do good by God. Staying in the word of God to help guide us and to help keep our lives free from sin. Keeping our minds full of God leaves no room for sin. We cannot afford our sins to interfere in the lives of our children. Pray for guidance each day and for growth and forgiveness. Pray for our children to follow God's direction and not be swayed by the world's motto of "If it feels good do it" Please, don't -"Just do it.!"
May God's blessings be on you and your families for ever and ever.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

God's Glory in Color

This morning I awoke with the sunshine, which is highly unusual for me as I am generally out of bed by 5:00 a.m. But since it was a very long, long day (22 hrs) long. I slept in and I had no intention of getting up, but as it was, nature was calling. And I am grateful that it was. As I came back into the room there was a pinkish glow coming through the blinds and I was THRILLED as I opened them. The sun was just peeking through grey storm clouds. As they were starting to subside and as the sun shone on the beautiful red dogwood tree outside the bedroom window, the room turned a beautiful shade of pink. And as I gazed out, the colors against the sky were no less than spectacular. The green pines amidst the golden maples the yellows, rusts and purples of the other trees and the hazy steam drifting off the lake were as well breathtaking and I was so thankful that I was given the opportunity to experience it. Thank you God for such a magnificent world and may I never take it for granted.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cranberry- Orange Relish

Today's recipe is short and sweet as I am short on time today as well. Catering tonight!

Cranberry-Orange Relish
1 bag of cranberries
1 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)
2 naval oranges- peeled, seeded & sectioned
juice of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1 cup of chopped pecans- (optional)

Place all ingredients except pecans in a food processor and pulse until all are combined but not soupy. Pour in serving bowl and mix in chopped pecans if using. Place in refrigerator and let rest for at least 1 hour.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Constant Comment Tea Cake

I know I said that I would be posting family recipes this week, but I have to tell you about a cake I baked earlier in the week. It is Constant Comment Tea Cake. I found the recipe on a site that I regularly follow and knew I was going to bake it and I'm glad that I did. It is very tasty and so simple to make. It has a light texture and is great with hot tea. You can find the recipe on the blog site ( It is in the October section. Hope you bake & enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


(The picture was my Father-in-law a Veteran waving from the balcony of ourr home on the 4th of July, 2008- just 2 weeks before he died- Thank you Dad.)
I am and always have been very patriotic. But the older & wiser I get, the more and more it means to me. We sometimes have a tendancy to just take for granted our wonderful freedoms in this great country of ours and forget those who gave everything so that we could live life as we do. We have been given so much by so many and more often take without thanking. Most of our younger generation have no idea what Veteran's Day is even about. The youth don't know what they have been given by the sacrifices of our Veteran's! But today with all that is in me I THANK you all, the past, present and future Veterans of this United States of America. To each & everyone of you, I wave my flag proudly, shed a tear in rememberance for you, I pray for you and thank our Mighty and Ever Loving God for your strength, endurance and gift of freedom to us. So........If you speak English- thank a veteran...If you can walk down the street each day and not worry about a bombing- thank a veteran...If you can freely vote your choice- thank a veteran...If you can pray to the God of your choosing- thank a veteran...If you can speak your mind- thank a veteran...If you can earn a paycheck- thank a veteran, and so much more- thank a veteran! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Carter Family Thanksgiving Recipes

Since this is November and cooking is such a huge part of my life, I have decided to post family recipes this week. Now I grew up in a real "Country" eating family. Not just a "Southern" eating family. (For those who are not from the south, there is a difference.) But I married a man from Long Island New York whose parents were Irish-Scottish & Russian-Ukrainian. So the foods we grew up on are not at all the same. After we were married, most every holiday was at his parent's home and I was introduced to a lot of new foods. But Thanksgiving was most always a twist on Southern cooking, except the stuffing, (which they refer to as "dressing", but that's a whole other story). I grew up eating good old Southern Cornbread stuffing NOT bread dressing! I was really disappointed the first time I was to eat Thanksgiving with them, but fortunately I was pleasantly surprised.
So later in years Honey's sister & I took over the holiday meals & I took over Thanksgiving. No problem, except that I was expected to cook all of his mom's recipes- talk about intimidating!!! I barely cooked back then. So now I am a pro at it and would like to share some of the Carter Family Thanksgiving Recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

Carter Family "Dressing"
10 Servings

2 large loaves of bread left out overnight to stale
1 lb of sage sausage
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 small jar of Mott's applesauce
1 large egg, beaten
1 can of Swanson Chicken broth
1/2 cup of milk
1 large handful of parsley, chopped
rubbed sage to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Crumble the bread in a large pot or bowl.
Brown the sausage, add the onion and celery cooking until tender.
Drain and pour into the crumbled bread.
Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Loosely stuff (hence the term stuffing), into the neck and cavity of the turkey.
Bake with the turkey and remove as soon as the turkey is cooled OR
Place in a well buttered casserole dish and cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Day When Everything Went Wrong

Okay, as mentioned yesterday it was my Honey's birthday. A typical day was all that I was expecting. WRONG! The day started with my usually angelic granddaughter being possessed by some foreign body and became the demon child ALL day. Second, I was trying a new recipe for a chicken casserole for the crock pot and something was not right and the middle never got cooked. Third, I started the birthday cake for my Honey and discovered I had used the last 2 eggs in my casserole, so that meant getting dressed and getting the demon possessed child ready and running out to the store. (Don't even ask how that went) and then I finally get home, get all the ingredients out and TRY to get started on the cake. Now I am a real stickler when it comes to baking cakes. Having messed up quite a few in the past, I have learned to get every ingredient out and ready ahead of time. I measure all the ingredients, have them lined up in order of use and everything cleared out of the way before I begin. Not the case yesterday. Number Four, Putting up with and fighting with a screaming 2 year old and wondering where in the world her mom was, I got off track with the cake. I was measuring and assembling as I was going (all while getting catering phone calls, trying to settle that demon child and debating with my husband on where we would order Pizza from for his birthday) and not keeping really good track of where I was. So finally after getting the cake in the oven and starting the cleanup process, I discovered two eggs sitting on the counter!!!! The two eggs that I had to leave to get earlier, the two eggs that were so necessary to get this three layer birthday cake to rise!!!! (Oh it gets better) I just had to laugh at myself and said well I'll just do with whatever turns out and get the delicious Carmel frosting ready for the chocolate mess. Enter Numer Five, well the frosting called for 3 sticks of butter, one of which was to be melted and cooked with sugar and guess what???? I read the directions wrong and cooked two sticks of butter and if that was not bad enough, it called for 7 cups of powdered sugar. I got 2 cups put in and then got distracted and then when I got back to it open the container of what I thought was the powdered sugar and put in a whole cup of flour before I realized it!!!! What could I do? By this time my daughters were here and we all just busted out laughing! I just scooped out as much flour as I could, added the sugar (and lost count) then slathered that stuff on top of those flat rounds of chocolate stuff, sliced that sucker up and served it! Happy Birthday Honey!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birthdays & Cakes

Today is my Honey's birthday. Not a mile marker one (that came a few years back), but just another day to him. We're not typically a big hoopla birthday kind of family but we enjoy the girls coming home for birthdays & we usually just go out for dinner somewhere. My biggest problem on birthdays is trying to decide what cake to bake or even to bake one at all. I always feel guilty though if I buy a cake. Somehow that makes me feel as though they have been cheated in someway. I will admit though that a few times a purchased cake would have been a better choice. I have managed to burn, under cook, and once, many years ago, even had a recipe that called for a "bit" of salt and somehow I managed to give it a "bit too much". But all in all I truly enjoy baking birthday cakes. Now my Honey, loves chocolate cake with chocolate icing, but I would much rather have a carrot cake, coconut cake or any kind of pound cake. I know each time that I make a cake for him, that he will have a piece or two and then that whole cake just sits there taunting me and just waiting to be eaten. I eventually will inevitably be the one who eats it and I'm not that fond of chocolate cake but I will not throw it out! Does this kind of stuff happen to you? It is like that cake is just calling and coaxing and saying here I am, you took time to make me and no one else is going to eat me, so you'd better make a cup of tea and sit right down and have a bite right now. And so I do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well it's finally here. Whether you vote Republican or Democrat please do not pass up the chance to voice your choice. It may not be long before this country turns the tables and we are no longer afforded this opportunity. And yes it is that, an opportunity, a privilege not a right. We as Americans have been given such freedoms in this Great Country of ours and so many of us have no idea of how vast they really are. But if we choose not to get out and vote and study the issues to make informed decision, these freedoms will surely be taken from us. We are not granted God given rights to vote, but a declaration of freedoms that our for fathers established, that if not enforced will be taken away. Please pray over your choices and vote.
GOD BLESS AMERICA we are in need in deed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A trip to Helen GA

Last week my Honey & I decided we would take a trip to north Georgia this weekend to see the changing colors and just to get away for the day. We decided, since I had never been, that we would visit Helen, a small town born from German heritage. I had heard wonderful stories of it and thought what the heck, let's go. With us we took our 2 year old granddaughter and my mother-in-law. We chose to take a more scenic route via Dahlonega. We got lost. Well, I got us lost, but it really was okay. The area was so beautiful that we didn't care. As we drove through Dahlonega, we decided that was our next trip. Anyway on to Helen. We arrived in town on the last few days of Oktoberfest. I was so excited to see everything and taste the foods and of course shop. BOY, was I disappointed. It was not what I was expecting at all. More beer halls and disappointing gift shops than anything else. I had anticipate there would be a lot of beer but the entertainment I was anticipating was nothing more than a few guys with guitars singing on the street corners and one lively old fellow playing some musical contraption that had no less that 6 different instruments attached- now I will admit he definitely was entertaining, but not what I was looking for. So after a 3 hour long drive and a 1 hour stroll around, we decided to leave and just enjoy the beautiful day and enjoy a few stops for free wine tastings. As we drove I was in awe of the incredible gift God had bestowed on us with His beautiful mountains and ever changing seasons and our delightful granddaughter and that was enough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Do you love the Autumn? I do. I love the crisp chill in the air, I love driving in downtown Newnan on the square late at night when hardly any cars are out as the wind blows the leaves around the streets, I love the colors of the pumpkins, eggplants and the squashes. I love decorating our home with the warm colors and planning for our Thanksgiving family dinner. But, most of all I love the smells of Autumn. Rich hearty pumpkin & squash soups as they cook and knowing they will soon warm my soul. Thick meaty chili in the crock as it scents the entire house until your mouth waters and the temptation to sneak a taste overcomes you. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies as they waft through the air cooking on Thanksgiving morning. I love sipping hot steaming cups of tea while wrapped in a blanket sitting on the porch early in the morning as the mist is just rising over the lake and the dew clings and glistens on spider webs as the smell of the wet leaves and sweet smell of hay just touch your notrils and the glory of God is so apparent that every bone in you shivers in amazement and silent worship.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween and a 2 year old "BAMA" Cheerleader

Last night was Halloween and my 2 year old grandaughter's first Halloween outing. Although she participated last year as we gave out candy at our home (she was a butterfly fairy princess running all over hitting everyone on the head with her wand) but, she did not get to go out. This year she did. She went as a BAMA cheerleader, and isn't she adorable? We don't have anyone in our household that has attended Alabama, but her mom's guyfriend did and he has taught her how to say "Roll Tide" really well. I rushed to make an outfit for her & her mom yesterday afternoon (with no pattern) and they actually turned out quite cute. Her mom picked her up from my home Friday afternoon (where she generally stays each day while mom is at work) and took her into downtown Newnan to "trick or treat" on the square. She had a great time. Afterwards they came here and we all went out together. What's better than making memories with those you love? What Halloween stories do you have to tell?