Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Honor of Friends and Fall

Friends are coming for dinner tomorrow night and pears are perfectly in season. So in honor of friends and fall, I baked a cake tonight. This is a very big deal for me. It requires that I follow directions and measure carefully -- both cooking skills that I simply don't possess. I'm confident that tonight's cake will be delicious because, truth be told, I made this same recipe a few weeks ago. It was so good I had to send half of it home with Maggie for fear I'd eat it all myself.

Start with four perfectly ripe peeled pears...

The recipe comes from friend Lynn and includes directions for a caramel glaze
– but the cake is so good without it, and it might be pushing my luck to think I could actually ice a cake –
that I chose to leave it plain.

 Just in case you are inspired, here's the recipe for Lynn's Pear Cake:

4 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and diced (3 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1.25 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss together pears and 1 tablespoon sugar; let stand 5 minutes. Beat eggs, 2 cups sugar and oil at medium speed with an electric mixer. Combine flour, slat and baking soda and add to egg mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in pears, chopped pecans and vanilla extract. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from pan and drizzle Caramel glaze over warm cake.

1 stick margarine
1.5 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Combine margarine, brown sugar and cream in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil for 2 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from heat and beat in about 2 cups powdered sugar. If too thick, add more cream. If too thin, add more sugar. (Remember, as icing cools it will thicken.) Ice cake while icing is still warm.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme...

Someday is not a day of the week.  – Author Unknown

Today was the day that I was going to tell you about our trip to Germany. I intended to gather all the maps, photos, mementos, etc. and recreate the highlights of our itinerary. Instead, I headed out to the garden, just to do a bit of clean up before the cold and rain come in later this week.  Three hours later, look what I created instead of a blog about our trip.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finding Luck

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
And one is for love, you know,
And God put another in for luck, -
If you search, you will find where they grow
- Ella Higginson

I believe in luck. I have a friend who will argue that what I call luck is just hard work and being prepared. I prefer to think of it as Divine Grace or perhaps as Blessings. Whatever one calls it, my life if full of it.

I'm keenly aware of the grace of it when I take my daily walks. The morning air, the warmth of the sun, the colors of the fields, the birds raising up from the corn stalks --  all remind me of my relationship to the world, my responsibility for it, and my gratefulness of it.

This morning as I walked my way toward the end of the gravel drive, I glanced over to the raggedy grass and a large four-leaf clover caught my eye. Rather than finding it, it seemed to find me. "Pick me. Pick me," it called out. And so I bent down and picked it.

This ability to find four-leaf clovers (or luck) has been a hidden talent of mine since I was a grade schooler. I can remember being six or seven and leaning out of a second-story window claiming that I could see a four-leaf clover from on high. My younger sister seriously doubted it and challenged me to go pick it. I jumped off the toilet seat that I was standing on, tore down the steps, slid through the kitchen and out the back door. While she waited in the window, I reached down and picked a perfect four-leaf clover, holding it up to her so she could see. Looking back on it, I doubt that I could see that clover from two stories up, but rather was bragging about my ability, and then (luckily) was able to find one once I got down to ground level.

Finding four-leaf clovers is not that hard. You just need to know where to look and how to look. Maggie's got the hang of it and claims it as her hidden talent. Mary asked me to teach her today and so I did. Within four minutes, she found four four-leaf clovers. May she be blessed with good luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Beilstein

I'm so confused. I've lost all track of the days of the week. I think it must be Tuesday, and I know I'm in Beilstein,Germany. I may be dreaming it all as it is so like a fairy tale. After a hearty German breakfast, Ed and I climbed to the top of a grape-vine laden hill (mountain) to the 1539 castle ruins of Metternich. We are renting bikes this afternoon for a ride along the Mosel River, with a stop along the way for a coffee and Kuchen. Doesn't get any better than this. More later...