Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Recently, I took a quick trip to the Smokey Mountains and went up I-985/441 through north Georgia. Every time I pass by this way I have to stop at Jaemor Farm Market. There are so many reasons, especially during the summer and fall. This place has grown over the years until it has become a real tourist attraction.
In the fall, it is for the apples and the pumpkins plus a corn maze. As we turned off the main road we always pass apple trees that line the entrance to a group of large sheds. The main one, a large open-air market is filled with almost everything you can think of.
At this time of year you can find plants, hanging baskets and lawn ornaments for sale.
There are also beautiful peaches. These are early peaches and are smaller than the ones they have later in the season. Of course we had to buy some of them and we now have a gallon of Ruby Prince peaches ripening in our kitchen. I think peaches are the perfect summer fruit.
There were tons of home-grown strawberries.
There is produce of every kind. Of course it is not all grown on the farm, or even grown locally but there is almost everything you could hope to find.
The baked goods are everywhere. These cakes sure look home-made and delicious.
Strolling through the open-air market is so enjoyable with so much to see.
The only thing I really didn't want were the boiled peanuts. I know most people love them and for anyone who likes them, help yourself and pay for them at the counter. They are a real southern delicacy. For me, they are just way too salty.
At the left side of the shed is my favorite area. Here there is a little seating area where you can sit down with a cup of coffee and a fried pie. They have apple, dried apple, sugar free apple, cherry, strawberry, peach, dried peach, pecan, German chocolate, coconut, sweet potato, lemon, pineapple and plain old chocolate. You can also get apple fritters, cake pops and a few other things I don't remember. They also sell ice cream in this area, though I didn't see any at this visit.
We had a very delicious strawberry fried pie and brought some more home with us to give away. They make great gifts.
As we were leaving, I noticed that the apples were growing nicely and I think they will be something I will go back for later in the year, when I pass through. I will also pick up more peaches and of course, more fried pies.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The other day I stepped by Hobby Lobby to buy a decorator's icing tip to decorate a cake I was making. I didn't find the exact tip since they were unfortunately out of what I was looking for. As I looked in the party isle I found the prettiest party decorations I have ever seen. There was an isle that was totally filled with color-coordinated party supplies. Beautiful! I was just so taken with these party color-coordinates!
Really, there were sets of each item in all colors. Above were the orange section that was next to the yellow section.
The pink section was the same--but all pink.
And, of course the blue with the same products, but in blue of course.
There were without a doubt the prettiest selection of party decorations I have seen.
The best thing is that Hobby Lobby has great coupons. If you know early enough, you could get the items at 40 percent off--one coupon per day, of course.
I will be looking there when I want to color coordinate a party. I will admit, I can get really carried away about coordinating colors. This was a party aisle made just for someone like me. Maybe you, too. Check it out!
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Not too long ago my friend, Stacie asked me to make a cake for her of an igloo with little black and white penguins on it. The on.e she really loved was the igloo cake from Martha Stewart.com. I thought it would be a "good thing" to see if I could in fact make a copy of that cake.
The original cake is an ice cream cake and that is not what Stacie wanted. Instead I used a regular yellow cake and used a butter cream frosting, the one I usually use to make decorated cakes. I baked two round layers and a domed layer in a metal bowl that fit perfectly on top of the 9-inch layers. I didn't know I had the bowl and I wasn't sure what I should use to make the rounded top--until I was drying dishes one day and picked up the bowl and thought how perfect it would be for the top of the igloo cake. I lined it with parchment paper and poured in the batter. I had to bake it a little longer than the layers but I think it turned out perfectly. I will use that pan anytime I have a domed top for a cake.
I did use marshmallows to make the doorway and covered it with frosting. I then made some little penguins from black and white fondant and put coconut around the cake for the "snow." Making figures from fondant is kind of like playing with clay.
I did use a smaller tip for piping icing onto my cake. I didn't realize there was a very large set of piping tips until I went to Michael's to buy a tip and found a really large one. I decided to use the smaller one. (Actually it was one of the large tips--number 125.) I also could have smoothed on the icing and used a knife or another implement to score the cake for the "ice blocks." With this cake, I just piped it on.
Now you can make a decision and let me know. I know my cake isn't better at all, but it looks like a pretty close second to me.
You can go here to see how the original cake was made.
Posted by Deberah Williams at 11:36 PM
Friday, June 14, 2013
Fish is usually not exciting to me. I really don't usually care for fried fish. I can eat it, but I would rather just pass. I would prefer to just make a meal off slaw and hush puppies. (I do like seafood--just not fish.) However, there is one fish dish that I have really enjoyed--fish tacos.
I first ate them at El Azteca, a Mexican restaurant located next to my doctor's office, close to Piedmont Hospital. I don't really know why I tried the fish tacos. Usually I would just pass, but for some reason I ordered something and fish tacos came with it. To my utter surprise and pleasure, the best things on my plate were the fish tacos.
Ever since, I have requested fish tacos. I told my husband that if he went fishing and caught fish, we could always have fish tacos. I guess I said it enough times and the other night, we went on a mission--not to replicate the El Azteca recipe but to make our own recipe for fish tacos.
Above is what we came up with.
My husband now likes fish tacos, too.
He grilled the fish by putting a piece of non-stick tin foil on the grill, punching some holes in the foil and basting the fish with butter, allowing it to cook until it is a bit flaky. Turn and repeat. I guess this can be accomplished by pan frying the fish on the stove in butter but my husband likes to grill.
After this, we made some pretty normal things like chopped tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers and onions. We added salsa and sour cream and had an Mm mm good dinner. I forgot to mention that we used soft taco shells. We also made some black beans to go with our fish tacos.
It wasn't the same as the great fish tacos at El Aztecas but it was very, very good.
Posted by Deberah Williams at 12:07 AM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
In June, I always bake a birthday cake for my grandson, Eli. He LOVES cake, especially a cake that is in the shape of anything other than--a cake. This year he requested a football-shaped cake. I must admit, I was a bit relieved because a football shape is much easier than say--an angler fish--which was his request last June.
For starters, this cake didn't have to have an embedded light and it could be done with less trouble than usual. It would be easy except that his cake must be gluten-free.
I was a little concerned that his cake might be harder than a normal cake because a gluten-free cake is often crumbly. However, this time, the cake turned out fine. The cake held up to being sliced and shaped. The birthday boy really loves his cake and today, on his birthday, I think everyone will love his cake--even though it is gluten-free. It tastes much like a cake made with wheat flour.
For this cake I made a 9 x 13 rectangular layer and a 9-inch round layer. I purchased a cake board and lined it with parchment paper. I put the baked rectangular layer in the center then cut off two sides of the round layer and added them to the end. After this I trimmed the cake to look basically like a football. After the excess cake and crumbs were removed, I removed the parchment paper.
I then made a large batch of chocolate frosting and frosted the entire cake (thankfully it is only a one layer cake).
After this I used purchased white fondant that I rolled out into thin strips and cut with a knife, for the white bands and made a small amount of white frosting for the laces and the birthday message.
The grass was so easy. It is made from sweetened coconut and green food coloring, all mixed up in a bowl to the right color. I added the green coconut mixture all around the edge to simulate grass.
Here is the gluten-free recipe:
Gluten-free yellow layer cake
2-1/4 cups sticky (glutinous) rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup corn starch
3 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
3 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
Butter to grease pans
Grease 9 x 13 metal pan and 9-inch round pan with butter. Line with parchment paper. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Mix all flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl (first six ingredients). Mix dry ingredients well with a wire whisk, then set aside.
Mix oil and sugar together in a mixer. Add eggs and vanilla flavoring and mix on high until slightly fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Mixture will be a little stiffer than a batter with wheat. Pour into the two prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 35 minutes or until cake is done. Follow the directions above to finish the cake.
Chocolate cocoa frosting
3 sticks of butter, softened
2 boxes Confectioner's sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
In a smaller bowl combine Confectioner's sugar and cocoa until well mixed. (I use a wire whisk.) Mix butter and Confectioner's sugar. Add enough milk to make the dough creamy and spreadable. Frost cake using this mixture.
White decorator's frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 box Confectioner's sugar
Enough milk to make soft enough to put into piping bag.
Mix together until creamy. Add to decorator's bag and add laces to football and add message.
Follow directions above to frost and decorate the cake. Then kick back and put your football on display at the birthday (or sports) party!
I like to transport cakes in plastic bins. This will go to the party tomorrow in safety since the cake is in a plastic bin.
Posted by Deberah Williams at 11:57 PM
The squirrel would not leave this newly potted hosta alone. He continued to dig out the dirt around the roots. He was probably either finding a hiding place for winter food or the plant looked like it had a tasty set of roots. I can't speak for what the squirrel was doing but he was certainly driving my mother crazy.
She had just purchased this small Georgia Sweetheart hosta the week before and didn't relish the thought that the squirrel would harm her new prize.
My idea was to get some of the small pebbles from a bed in front of her house and line the pots with them. Her idea was to move some rocks, covered with some lovely moss, from another pot to surround the precious roots of her new Sweetheart plant.
After it was done, I realized her idea was much better than mine. The pesky squirrel can't move the rocks but he could have scattered the pebbles all over her deck. And the moss on the rocks was an extra bonus. I think I will put some rocks in mossy areas of my yard just so I can use the moss-covered rocks later to add something extra to my potted plants.
I just love simple, easy solutions.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
For the past few weeks--since I became self-employed, I have again been going to yard sales.
In the past when I went to yard sales I would find myself coming home with odds and ends and things that I liked, but couldn't always use. Now, I am looking for things that I really, really can use. If I can't use it, give it away or I don't think I could sell it, I don't buy it.
I have also decided that Fridays are the best yard sale days for me. I don't know if this will always hold true because this past Friday, there weren't very many yard sales in my area. Saturday was definitely the best day--yet I had already planned on Friday and that was the day I went.
Maybe--for me at least, it was the perfect day because the first yard sale I found had plenty of the things I really needed most--pots for planting. I need pots to help in propagating plants, growing plants from seeds and pots I can clean up and give away with a nice potted plant inside, of course.
There were pots to hang in front of windows, or I'm my case, over the railing on my deck, one very large pot that was made from stone or concrete--very heavy, quite a number of lightweight fiberglass pots, clay pots painted in bright colors, a couple of pretty plastic pots and some pots that were made from china with pretty designs. All in all I really hit the jackpot for the "things I really need" category! For all of these pots, I paid only $13! This was one of my favorite yard sale days ever.
I will continue to go and I will try to go on the day when most yard sales are happening, for whatever reason (this week weather was probably a big factor) but I will continue to look for things I really need because eventually, I will run up on just the thing(s) I need--at least this week I did.
Posted by Deberah Williams at 9:21 PM