Tuesday, February 14

Valentine's Day: The Language of Flowers

Valentine's Day is a lovely holiday, even if you don't have a significant other in your life.

Flowers and herbs have a language that we can use to express our feelings to those we love. Everyone knows that red roses speak of love, but there are so many others.

Camellias are beautiful flowers. They have some of my favorite meanings:

Pink Camellia: Longing for You

Red Camellia: You're a Flame in My Heart

White Camellia: You're Adorable

The day a man brings me a red camellia is the day I settle down. A few more flowers with message I love are:

Primroses: I can't live without you
Forsythia: Anticipation
Daffodil: You're the Only One or The Sun is Always Shining When I'm with You

Remember, if you haven't met the love of your life, it's okay. Love the people that are in your life, and let them know how much you care about them today.

Friday, February 10

Snowy Day Baking

When it snows it drifts. It doesn't have the same ring as "when it rains, it pours" does it? We've had an unusually mild winter this year, and the old timers have been telling me we hadn't seen the last of the snow. Today we were hit with a fairly heavy blizzard, and a portion of the expressway closed.

I took a break later in the afternoon to bake a loaf of a beer bread  and warm the kitchen.

Cheddar Garlic Beer Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 ounces room temperature beer
4 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. garlic powder

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cheese. Add the beer, and stir to form a soft dough. Do not use an electric mixer. Mix until just moistened. Spoon evenly into a 9x5 loaf pan that has been sprayed with pan spray or coated with butter. Mix the garlic into the melted butter and drizzle on top of the dough BEFORE baking. Place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet in the oven on the middle rack. Bake at 350 degree F. for 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick. If still undone, bake for ten more minutes. Serve warm.

Notes: My bread turned out crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. It was delicious, and worth putting up with the smoke from the oven. Why, you ask? I forgot the cookie sheet and the butter bubbled over into the bottom of the oven. Not a good thing, especially when it's a cold winter day and open windows make for a chilly house.

Thursday, February 9

Orange Kiss Me Cake

The following is a piece of fiction I wrote for Valentine's Day:)  ~Brenda

Dotty and the Orange Kiss Me Cake

 I've been cooking for the cafe since I was 15 years old, and helping my daddy out in the kitchen. I learned the basics from him: fried chicken, meatloaf, roast beef and all the diner food folks came to expect from our cafe. I was always trying to convince him to let me try new dishes, but he'd say "Dotty, our customers don't need any new fangled food. They like our menu just the way it is. They count on it." Daddy was nothing if not steadfast and reliable.

One year I talked him into letting me make a special dessert for Valentine's Day. I was 16, and it was called "Orange Kiss Me Cake". I made up a sign for the window, and had baked it at home several times earlier in the month, which is how I had convinced Daddy to let me make it for the cafe. I remember that day clearly for so many reasons. The lunch crowd had bought out the first cake, and I had just put out the second cake. I looked up and saw a young man walk in the cafe. He was six foot tall with sandy brown hair, and looked like a young Steve McQueen. He sat down at a table near the door just as I headed his way. I asked what I could get him, and he said in a slow Southern drawl:

"Darlin', I have to try a piece of the Orange Kiss Me Cake."

He hit me with a smile that made my knees buckle. Turns out his name was Ben, and he'd just moved to New Harvest from Alabama. I've made him the Orange Kiss Me Cake for 49 years now, and every time he gives me that smile it still weakens my knees. He waited two years to propose to me, sitting at the same table he sat at that first day. Turns out my daddy had threatened to ruin his pretty smile if he didn't wait to ask me until I was 18. It's okay, he was worth the wait.

I thought you all might like to bake the Orange Kiss Me Cake for someone you love. I remember cutting the recipe out of a newspaper all those years ago, but it's not exact. I changed it slightly and frost it with whatever frosting or glaze catches my fancy each year.

Orange Kiss Me Cake

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large orange
1 cup milk

Using a grater, carefully zest the orange all around. Set aside. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Cream the shortening and sugar. Blend in the eggs one at a time. Add the orange zest. Add the milk, alternating with the dry ingredients, using an electric mixer. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool.

This cake can be frosted with a cream cheese or buttercream frosting.

May your Valentine's Day be full of love and laughter.

The Last of the Roses in Autumn

The milkweed pods are breaking,   And the bits of silken down   Float off upon the autumn breeze   Across the meadows brown. ~C...