Blogging and Baking from The Nest

Just Because You Get Older Doesn’t Mean You Grow Up

Someone in The Nest is celebrating a birthday today!!  I’m not going to name names, but I’ll give you a hint. . .

Of course, this calls for cake!!  (Like I need an excuse to bake a cake!!)

Because I like to experiment with new recipes, I tried The BEST chocolate cake with My Favorite Fluffy Buttercream Frosting.  To quote the birthday boy – “this cake is sinful!!”  I prefer it to my previously posted Chocolate Chip Cake.  The brewed coffee give you an extra kick of caffeine and the frosting in the perfect compromise between heavy traditional buttercream and a fluffy whipped frosting.  Of course I had to add a generous layer of sprinkles because that’s The Bald Eagle’s favorite.

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I baked and frosted the cake Saturday afternoon, but we ended up have a big dinner out and then popcorn at the movie theater, so the cake went untouched Saturday.  Then Sunday while I was cooking dinner, The Bald Eagle came into the kitchen and sheepishly took me by the hand.  He led me over to the table where the cake had been sitting and then coyly pointed to the side of the cake.

 

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Couple of things.

1)  I immediately thought of a dog we used to have who always told on himself every time he had an accident in the house.  Instead of running the other way, he waited until you came into the room and then sniffed at the puddle to draw your attention to the fact he had been naughty.

2)  Notice the skill displayed here.  The top was left untouched so as not to tip anyone off who looked at the cake from the other side.  Clearly the perpetrator of this crime had some experience in sneaking cake.

3)  This cake was made in the honor of said perpetrator’s birthday.  He was sneaking from his own cake!!  This cake sat untouched for 24 hours.  At any point in time it would have been completely acceptable for The Bald Eagle to whip out a knife and claim a piece of his cake, but instead he nibbled off half the side of a cake while I wasn’t looking like an 8-year-old. . .

Proving you can get older, but that doesn’t mean you have to grow up!!  Happy birthday to the oldest little boy I know.  You may try my patience like I never thought possible, but I still love you.  And in the end, you always make me laugh.  This is for life.  This is forever.

Happy Monday to everyone else!  Hope you have a fantastic week!

Love,

Baby Bluebird (aka Dayna)

Patience

This post is all about patience.  Waiting seems to be a theme in my life.

First, thanks for being patient with me and the long delay between posts.  Unfortunately, I was bitten by the stomach bug that’s been going around.  It hit me about 10 days ago, and I thought I shook it two times, but the third time finally got me down this week.  So, I’ve had to practice a lot of patience these last four days because every time I felt like my appetite was coming back (usually around dinner time), the nausea and all the nasty stuff that goes with it would come back, too.  I’ve tried to get off my anti-nausea medicine because it tends to make me sleepy, but that’s backfired on me as well.

And The Bald Eagle has practiced patience this week, too.  It seems like almost every time I’ve gotten sick in the last 10 years, The Bald Eagle has not been in The Nest.  He hasn’t purposely flown the coop, but he travels a lot for work, and it seems like the flu bugs always come visit me when he’s already on the road.  Finally, my sickness lined up with a week he was home, and so he was finally able to make a small dent in returning the nursing I’ve given him over the years.  He makes great toast!  I do need to teach him how to scramble an egg for future reference, but great toast was what I needed this time.  🙂

Oliver, our neighbor cat, is a master at patience.  Let me show you a typical scene on our front porch.

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This is Oliver, or Little O, right outside our front door waiting.

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This cat is like a statue.  His ability to wait . . .

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And wait . . .

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And wait never seems to end.  And what is he waiting for, you might ask?

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His ultimate obsession – our dog, Khaki.  And his ultimate challenge – access to our air-conditioned house.  This is Khaki looking in through the sidelight of our front door.  She was out roaming the land while Oliver waited her out – knowing it was just a matter of time before Khaki had to come back up the front porch steps to get back inside.  If you look closely, you can see Little O standing right beside Khaki looking in.

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Oliver knows he can easily sneak in once the door is open for Khaki.  He also knows his visit will be brief because the temptation of jumping on the kitchen countertop will overtake him within two and a half minutes of his entry into the house.  And after he’s escorted out the back door, he’ll recover from the whole affair on our covered barbecue grill and wait for his next chance to snuggle up to his favorite dog and race into our house.

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And speaking of Khaki, she has her own skills in patience.  Exhibit A.

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First, this is a treat that only comes around 2 or 3 times a year – an empty peanut butter jar.  Secondly, this is one of those big, bulk size jars.  She’s smart enough not to stick her nose into the jar, but she does extend her tongue as far into that jar as she possibly can.  I love how she holds the jar between her paws.

Before the stomach bug bit me, I had a couple of baking moments that required a lot of patience.  First, I made my Simple Peach Cobbler.  It’s simple because it’s only 3 ingredients – canned peaches, yellow cake mix and butter (butter cures all ills), but I don’t call it Easy Peach Cobbler, because it does require some patience in preparation.  You need to cover the top of the cobbler with a thin layer of butter.  I enjoy making the cobbler because cutting the butter and placing the pieces on top of the dry cake mix is like putting a puzzle together.  You must cover every nook and cranny of the top of the cobbler with butter for it to turn out properly.  I also enjoy making it because it comes out an unbelievable hit every time.

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And then there’s this one accomplishment I have to share with you.  A week ago I made this cake for a co-worker’s birthday.

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This was one of those ‘I can’t believe I made this” moments, but it did take a great deal of patience since this was my first attempt at trying to decorate a cake like this.  I found this great Rose Cake Tutorial and couldn’t wait to try it.  If you ever decide to try this yourself (believe me, you can do it if I did) but if you do, make sure you buy or make extra frosting because this does take more than a traditional frosting would.

That’s enough about patience for now.  Hope you’re all doing well and have successfully dodged the stomach bug.    Thanks for reading!

Baby Bluebird (aka Dayna)

Happy Monday!

Hello!

So, this is how some of us around here feel about Mondays –

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This is Oliver, our cat neighbor.  He’s actually mid yawn, but I think he looks like he’s pretending to be a lion!  I’m not sure if he’s happy or mad, but this is my new favorite picture of Little O.

And then there’s this little visitor –

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I took this picture from our kitchen window with no zoom – that’s how close he was to the house.  As long as he stays in the backyard and doesn’t get near my hosta in the front, we’ll get along.

Some of my favorite people have a birthday this week – Jerry, Kathleen and my very own big sis!  Happy birthday!  Wish we could be together for a big celebration – but given the 3 of you have never met one another, that might be kind of weird.  🙂

Other than that, things are pretty boring around here.  Not much new to pass along – just trying to stay cool and sneeze free.  I told the Bald Eagle we need to get out more so we don’t sound so dull in our blog.

Hope you have a great week!

Baby Blue Bird (aka Dayna)

Dreaming and Reminiscing

Before I start on topic, I need to rant just a second.  A couple of times this week I’ve heard celebrities referring to non-celebrities as civilians.  Who do these celebrities think they are, war hero’s?  Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says a civilian is one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force.  Sorry, but I think that’s disrespectful to people who serve our country and should really be our role models by suggesting celebrities aren’t also civilians.  Get over yourselves celebrities!  Sorry, I try not to make it a habit of getting on my soap box on my blog, but I just heard that term again on TV and it really tweaked my beak!

While we’re off subject talking about beaks, I actually saw a roadrunner in our backyard one afternoon this week.  And by roadrunner, I mean the bird . . . like on the cartoon.  True to his name, he was too fast for me to grab my camera and snap a picture, but he looked just like this . . .

(courtesy of Wikipedia)

which is how I knew he was a roadrunner because he trotted just like the cartoon character.  See, cartoons can be educational.  I did some research and they can be seen in the western two-thirds of Arkansas.  Cool!!  Beats those ugly armadillos we see along the side of the road all the time.

Ok, back on topic.  First dreaming.  While I was on an extended vacation for the 4th of July I finally joined Pinterest.  You may have noticed there’s a button on the right of my blog now that says, “Follow me on Pinterest”.  If you click on that button you’ll go to my Pinterest page.  So, what is Pinterest, you may ask?  With Pinterest you build boards, like bulletin boards.  Each board has its own theme.  And then you “pin” pictures from the internet that you like to each board.  For example, I have one board that’s just all cookies, one that’s cakes and then one with several great quotes I found.  But since it’s the internet, you can get from the picture to the website where the picture came from.  So, with baking it’s been very educational because I can find beautiful looking foods and then get to the recipe behind them.  Now I have all kinds of ideas I can keep experimenting with!  It’s addicting!

Now on to reminiscing.  I finally had a little time to try my Mom’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  This was my dad’s favorite dessert, so my mom made it every year for his birthday.  I remember one of my favorite parts was getting to drink the leftover pineapple juice.  Yummy!  I have never attempted it – mainly because I’ve never owned an iron skillet, and that’s what you bake it in.  IMG_0715

 

It came out really well!  Everyone at work loved it.  The cake is nice and spongy and the crush pineapple guarantees you get a good dose of pineapple flavor in every bite.

Then my generous neighbor shared some of her fabulous zucchini from her garden.  Zucchini reminds me of my grandmother.  When I was little, grandma always had a garden in the summer.  There were always plenty of three vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.  Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables to roast.  All you have to do is slice it, toss it in a little olive oil, place it on a cookie sheet coated in cooking spray and bake for about 15-25 minutes on 450º – time depending on how thick you sliced the zucchini and how crisp you like it.  You can also do this with yellow squash or eggplant.  So good, I could eat it for breakfast!

But what my grandma always did with her zucchini was make Grandma’s Zucchini Bread.  I don’t think I’ve ever made this myself but it was just how I remembered.  It’s great because you start out by pureeing the zucchini in a blender or food processor.   It’s such a vibrant color of green you can easily trick yourself into believing it’s healthy.

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but then you add all the flour and oil, which makes it taste so good!

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Triple yummy!!  You probably could eat a slice of this every day for breakfast and people wouldn’t even think you were weird.  🙂

Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Thanks for reading!

Baby Bluebird (aka Dayna)

 

Experimenting

Hello!

I took some extra time off with the 4th holiday to relax and recover from a super busy June at work.  Khaki decided she needed to relax, too.

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It was also the perfect time to experiment with a few things in the bakery (aka the kitchen).  First, Oliver, our neighbor cat, did some experimenting of his own.  This is him experimenting with the idea of becoming a garden statue.  Can you find him?

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That really wasn’t adventurous enough for Oliver, so he decided to experiment with eating Khaki’s dog food.  It was an experiment to see if he could keep his head or if Khaki would bite it off.

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Fortunately Khaki was practicing her patience, and there wasn’t a growl or a scratch exchanged.  But I don’t think we’re going to let Oliver make a habit out of this experiment.  Khaki tried to eat her food so fast to keep Oliver from getting any I was afraid she was going to get heartburn.  (Do dogs get heartburn??)

Anyway, my first experiment was in making my own marshmallows.  Why would I want to do that, you ask?  First off, I didn’t even realize you could make your own marshmallows.  I thought marshmallows could only be made in some big Kraft factory with potions and chemicals us common folk wouldn’t understand.  Secondly, I knew homemade marshmallows were essential for the ultimate S’more experience.  I’d tried using marshmallow fluff – good, but could be better.  I’d also read recipes with marshmallows straight off the campfire.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a campfire regularly burning in my kitchen, so I needed a better solution.

Turns out making homemade marshmallows isn’t hard at all.  It just takes a little patience.  When I poured the marshmallow mixture into the pan and patted on the confectioner’s sugar/cornstarch mixture, I realized I’d done it.  I ran through the house trying to find The Bald Eagle and yelling, “I did it!  I did it!”  When I found B.E. shaving his Bald Eagle head, he asked, “What did you do?”, as if I’d just won the supermarket sweepstakes.  He seemed a little disappointed when I revealed my incredible feat was that I’d made my own marshmallows.  It turns out The Bald Eagle doesn’t like marshmallows.  That’s crazy talk!!  Who wouldn’t find these to be delicacies of the sugarplum fairies?

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And look at the A-MAZE-ING S’mores I made from them.

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You can read all about these S’mores and how to make homemade marshmallows here – S’more with Homemade Marshmallows.  If you have children, or even know children, it’s a must have treat!

My second experiment involved these Even-Bake Cake Strips.IMG_0668

A friend told me long ago that the best way to get a cake to bake evenly was to wrap the cake pan with wet towels.  I never quite figured out how to do that, but these strips use that same principle.  They’re silver fabric strips with metal fasteners. IMG_0669

First you get the strips completely wet.

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Then you wrap the cake pans with the strips and fasten them with the metal pin that comes with them.

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Then bake as normal.  It seemed to really work!  My cakes did turn out more even than normal.  See for yourself. . .

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And the cake was awesome, too.  Chocolate Chip Cake with Buttercream Frosting  Unlike marshmallows, chocolate cake with white frosting is The Bald Eagle’s favorite.  I added sprinkles just for him.

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Got milk?  You’ll need it with this super moist, super chocolate, super delicious cake.

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Happy experimenting!

Baby Bluebird (aka Dayna)

Has Anyone Seen a Decent Grocery Store Around Here?

Since we moved to Northwest Arkansas (NWA) in March, I’ve been longing for our Kroger grocery store back in Cincinnati.  We have two grocery stores here – one’s the Beast from Bentonville (aka Wal-Mart) and the other is a small regional grocer.  They both serve the purpose and have their own good qualities, but Kroger has more assortment than either and there are things I just can’t seem to find at any other grocery store.  So, the day after the Forth of July I set out to find the nearest Kroger.  Where is it??

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“It’s not up here”, Oliver says from our attic.  Crazy, curious cat.  He can climb a ladder better than I can (which may not be saying much).

Nor was it in here. . .

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This is what was on the inside of a seriously dead tree that’s on the other side of our bedroom wall.

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Good thing the tree guy got it before Mother Nature did.  That would not have been a good wake-up call.

But back on track . . . the closest Kroger according to their website was 70 miles away in Joplin, MO.  Actually, it’s a Dillon’s, which is owned by Kroger, but it’s still the same.  Since I had the day off, Khaki was getting her summer ‘do at the groomer and Bald Eagle had some work to attend to at home, I headed north to cross the state line in search of a decent grocery store.

Turns out Joplin has a lot of things I miss that Fayetteville doesn’t have.  Like Macy’s, Bob Evans, Michael’s Craft Store and a Chik-Fil-A that doesn’t have a drive thru line that circles the restaurant three times at all times of the day.  But it is missing one key thing . . . the Dillon’s.  Ends up the Dillon’s was a victim of the 2011 tornadoes that hit Joplin and all that’s left is the pharmacy.  Are you kidding me?!?!  Back to the internet, turns out there’s another Dillon’s in Pittsburg just under an hour away.  What the hay, I’d come this far and it was just now lunch time.

Next thing I know, I’m in Kansas!  I didn’t know I’d be crossing two state lines on this little adventure.  About 50 minutes later I found it.

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Yep, that’s it.  Probably the smallest grocery store I’ve been in that wasn’t in a tourist town.  Still my resolve would not be shaken.  So, I grabbed my shopping list and headed in.  Twenty minutes later I had a half basket full.  Really only a few things from my list . . . it was only a third of the size of the Kroger’s I’m used to . . .but still as I drove away from the store I felt a little teary eyed.  I don’t know if I was disappointed that I’d once again failed on my mission to find Minute Maid Diet Lemonade in cans and the curry paste I use for chicken curry, or if it was a touch of homesickness.  Either way, it wasn’t a bad way to kill a Friday.

On a brighter note, Khaki’s summer ‘do looks great!  She’s ready for next week’s heat.

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And on a yummy note, the day after I made Mama’s Blackberry Cobbler, our super awesome neighbor who’s also a gardener extraordinaire gave us some of her blackberries from her garden.  So this time I decided to make The Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cobbler.  It wasn’t better or worse than Mama’s recipe, just different and equally delicious.  If you don’t have or don’t care for ice cream with your cobbler (what’s wrong with you?!?!), I’d recommend this one.

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It’s gooier than Mama’s recipe.  In this recipe the cobbler/blackberry ratio leans more toward the cobbler while in Mama’s the blackberries hold their own.  Neither are the traditional cobblers with the biscuit like puffs on top of an all fruit base.  I think you should just bake them both and decide for yourself which one you prefer.  That’s something only a crazy person (like me) would do!  🙂

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Thanks for reading!

Baby Bluebird (aka Dayna)

 

Tale of Two Berries

There once were two berries who were cousins, Blue and Black.

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Blue as short and squat and had beautiful shiny, dark skin when he was wet . . .

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but was true to his name and had a blue-ish complexion when he was dry.  It especially came out when he was hanging out with his friends. . .

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Then there was his bigger, football shaped cousin, Black.  Although Black was much beefier than Blue, Black was jealous of Blue’s perfect, unblemished complexion.    You see Black had quite a skin imperfection that made him look lumpy and bumpy.

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And occasionally Black’s skin was more red then black. IMG_0608

Blue was the queen’s favorite berry, but Black was the king’s favorite.

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So Blue and his friends were used to adorn one of the queen’s favorite desserts . . . Italian Cream Cake.  He was like the ornaments on a Christmas tree or the pearls with a gorgeous dress. . . not necessary to make the dessert, but necessary to make the dessert over the top fabulous!

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The queen shared her dessert with everyone in the land and they all fell in love with Blue.  Italian Cream Cake with Blueberries

Black and his friends were used to make the king’s favorite dessert’s . . . cobbler.  Black was the star of the cobbler.  His dessert was so luscious and rich the king hoarded it and kept it all for himself.  Mama’s Blackberry (or Rhubarb) Cobbler

 

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The End.