Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Silas!

5 Years old
 and a passion for hockey!
Before tossing an old table-top hockey game, I pulled off the figures.
Perfect for cake toppers!
Frosting recipe below

We ALL played Pin-the-tail-on-the Donkey before
singing Happy Birthday.
Keri's sweetly watching her brother
 Silas's expression when he saw his face as a Stanley Cup Champ


 Pop-Pop sharing his cake with Cambrie
Brothers talking hockey strategy
A gift from Aunt Abbey (Silas's other passion)
 Dear Boy!
 Sad faces watching their beloved Flyers ending their season.
Silas, Josh with Caleb, Josh's dad Albert and my John
Joel (Josh's youngest brother) Jared and Keri Jill practicing at the piano
~*~
Butter Cream Frosting
2 lbs. confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
pinch salt
about 10 Tablespoons milk or cream (depending on desired consistency)
3 tsp vanilla

Combine all of the ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy.
Add food coloring if desired

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aunt Lydia's Coffee Cake

This cake was my mother-in-laws signature dessert.
Hazel served it at every backyard barbecue, and get-together, which in her family, happened frequently.
Hazel and her seven siblings were raised in a farmhouse at the top of the hill by Elsie and Ed.
From Top left:
Irene, Hazel
Elsie, Ted
Twins Walter and Warren
Ernie and Fred
As the kids grew up and married, those who wanted were given a block of land to build their own home.
Hazel and Jack built their home right along side her sister Irene and sister Elsie and Uncle Wes.
My husband grew up with many of his cousins as next door neighbors. 
Hazel and Jack in front of the house she and her siblings grew up in.
Many a Sunday afternoon, the tables and chairs would be set up and the gas grill lit as John's dad, Jack, diligently manned his station to cook the hot-dogs and burgers.

Hazel would be at her Amana Microwave (she was one of the first to own a microwave oven) cooking the bacon for her doctored Campbell Soup beans.
Aunt Elsie and Aunt Irene and other relatives world bring their specialty dishes and all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends would arrive for visiting.
It was a wonderful way to keep the family close.
~*~
During one of those backyard barbecues, I met the cutest 2 year old twin boys while I was expecting my twin daughters.  One of those little boys grew up to become my son-in-law.
But that is a really sweet story for another day!
Many years ago, Aunt Irene (Hazel's sister) knew I would love to have a copy of Hazel's special cake and hand wrote the recipe for me.
Aunt Lydia's Coffee Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup salad oil
4 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. butter flavoring (optional)
~*~
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
~*~
Glaze
mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp butter flavor
and a little cream to desired consistency

Directions
In large bowl, place cake mix, pudding mix, water and oil.  Stir to blend.  (I use a mixer)

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla and butter flavoring if using.

In separate bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts.  Grease and sprinkle on Bundt pan or square pan (I use a 9x13-inch pan).  Place 1/4 cup pecan mixture on the bottom of pan.  Alternate batter with pecan mixture ending with batter.

Bake 1 hour (check after 45-50 minutes).  Remove from oven and invert onto a cake plate immediately.

Drizzle glaze over top of slightly warm cake.

Linking to Michael Lee West's Foodie Friday @Designs by Gollum

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Friends

Geography makes no difference.
Language makes no difference.
You know in an instant nice people.
You're warmed by their kind smiles
friendly manner
genuine laughter.
John, Juan, Paloma, Aldara, Lorraine
We had a most delightful morning with Aldara's family.
Juan is Aldara's father and is in the United States from Spain for business and visiting family.
Juan speaks and understands English very well and although
Paloma knows less English, we quickly realized what a
sweet lady she is and enjoy her company.
 How excited John was to receive a gift of Jamón serrano which is a delicious national treasure of Spain
~*~
Jamón Serrano
Fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. The salt is then washed off and the hams are hung to dry for about six months. Finally, the hams are hung in a cool, dry place for six to eighteen months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured. The drying sheds (secaderos) are usually built at higher elevations, which is why the ham is called mountain ham.
Jamon Serrano country ham is a source of great pride among Spaniards. From time immemorial in the mountains of Spain, they have rolled fresh hams in sea salt and hung them from their rafters to cure. A year to eighteen months later the jamones are ready to mount on special stands that are designed so that anyone can stop by, carve a few paper-thin slices, and enjoy an impromptu snack.
It is unlike the smoked and salty Virginia country hams, which have to be soaked and cooked. And it is even significantly different from Italian prosciutto, which is cured for a few months with a coating of lard. The Spanish jamón serrano has distinctly more flavor, and significantly less salt than country ham and less fat than prosciutto.

Jamón serrano is more than a delicacy in Spain; it is a normal part of every family’s life. 
What is the appeal? Jamon Serrano is a flavorful, natural ham, cured in the country air. This extended curing transforms the ham, imparting a deep flavor and aroma. This lengthy curing also means it is much less fatty and has a firmer bite than Italian prosciutto. You can serve it sliced paper-thin with cheese and olives, or use it to flavor your favorite Spanish recipes.
The secret to jamon lies in its curing, recreating the effect of traditional techniques. This tradition is kept alive in rural areas where in early winter, family and friends gather to slaughter their livestock in preparation for winter months. The hams are placed in sea salt for a brief period of time – approximately one day per kilo – and then they are strung up. They are allowed to experience the changes of temperature as the seasons progress. The right time to eat them is when an experienced ham-master inserts a long splinter of cow bone and whiffs the jamón, like a connoisseur of wine who sniffs the cork.
This lovely scarf is a gift from Juan and Paloma as well.
I will remember them each time I wear it :)
How appropriate that Forget-Me-Not flowers are blooming in the garden.
A prefect reminder of  new friendship!

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