Saturday, October 24, 2009

autumn white night

I have tried to sleep tonight, very tired, but my recent bout with the flu has made me restless and melancholy.
When sleep escapes me, my mind wanders to the old farm.
In these tired waking nightmares I feel myself walking barefoot in the early fog morning ; down the worn dirt paths that led to the pasture, over the cool grasses that were the back yard and edge of our herb garden. My hand trails along the tall prairie grasses wet with dew, spiders raising their little arms as I pass, cottontails and possums scrunching deeper into their hiding places, small salamanders slinking behind rocks.

I remember every herb, flower and fruit that has grown there over the years. I close my eyes and inhale their scents as deeply as I can.

The fog has not burned off yet; it hovers, swirls over the gardens, I sit on the damp, cool ground and wait for it disappear .

It is very quiet in this dream. (or wakemare, as I call it)

I am so overcome with pain and when my idle, tired mind leads me back there, I feel the loss of the farm so intensely. The sharp pain makes me stop breathing. It was not mine, not ours. It was just a place, a resting place for us for a little while. I should not feel so possessive of it.
The gardens we created there were so beautiful, peaceful ,lovely.
The ache and anger I feel at it's loss threatens to bring me down. But only when I let it, only when I allow it.
It's true that you should not look back. It's not a good thing to feel this way.
Night time is very mystical, you say things that you would not say in the day.
Thank goodness I sleep well most of the time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rose Cream Cake

Here is a very nice recipe that I use to make rose water cakes.

Candy pink or red rose petals with egg whites and sugar the night before you make these cakes. (paint individual petals with egg whites and sprinkle with fine sugar. Let them dry on wax paper.)

White Cake Batter

2 and 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
4 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light cream (not the heavy whipping cream)
6 fresh red or pink rose petals, minced finely (unsprayed organic rose petals)
3 tsps rose water
1 tsp almond flavoring

Spray small foil mini loaf pans with oil. Mix half flour and confection sugar . Use to flour the pans. Tap out excess. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together : flour, salt, baking powder. Sift at least 2 times. Set aside.
In another clean, very dry bowl (any oil in the bowl will not allow the egg whites to whip properly) Beat eggs whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until meringue makes soft peaks.
In another bowl, cream butter, add remaining cup of sugar, mix together until light and fluffy. Add minced roses to butter and sugar mixture. Add sifted dry ingredients a little at a time to butter and sugar, alternating with cream. Beat after each addition until smooth. Mix in rose water, and almond flavoring. (you may substitute vanilla if you don't like almond) Add meringue, folding into batter.
Pour batter 3/4 full into small pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Begin to check for doneness after 20 mins. (every oven is different)
Let cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks. Place a rimmed cookie sheet under racks.
Make a simple syrup with sugar and water, adding a few herbal hibiscus petals for color and flavor, letting the hibiscus infuse the syrup until very red.
(If you don't know how to make simple syrup, Martha Stewart is the best source for the recipe) Strain petals from syrup.
Make a confection sugar frosting using the hibiscus syrup for flavor, color and to make a nice consistency . Frosting should come out a light pink. You want to use enough syrup to make a frosting that will pour thickly onto cakes. You want it to be thick enough to be seen on cakes, but not so thick that it will have to be spread with a knife. Pour glaze over cakes letting the excess run onto cookie sheet.
Crumble the roses you candied yesterday and sprinkle lightly over cakes.
Let cakes cool and frosting dry before wrapping.

I wrap them in clear cello bags and tie them shut with rose colored raffia or pink gross grain ribbon.
Its a nice touch to print a tag with an old fashioned rose on it.

Now, after giving you that recipe, I will tell you that I have taken a box of white cake mix, added rose water, petals and cream to it and have come out with a very nice moist cake.
If you decide not to use the frosting, make a hibiscus-rosewater simple syrup and paint the top of the cakes with it. The syrup will make the cakes stay very moist.

Rose Cream Cake

This is one of my favorite items to sell at markets and fairs. It makes a pretty presentation in a clear cello bag tied with a dusty pink or red ribbon ribbon. (Sometimes I tie it with red raffia) Attach a small tag that has an old-fashioned rose pic on it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Peppermint soap

Making soap today. For some reason it's not coming out right. Either warmed it too long or changed the recipe too radically.
Finally managed to make 8 bars ! I usually make at least 20 at a time .
I don't think today is a 20 kinda day.........
The recipe is a goodie, chocolate mint herb, honey, peppermint oil....
I use it to cool off hot flashes.
Peppermint loves menopausal women!
Wanted to bake this afternoon, but since my morning has been one disaster after another, I would probably burst into flames or start the house on fire.
Man, I miss my farm, I would be doing this outside or in the little shop.
If any of you have a farm, do your best to keep it, we are finding it very hard to adapt to town living. Our new farm won't be ready for at least 7 or 8 months.
My husband says we aren't ourselves, that we don't know who we are anymore, lol.
He is so right.
Tomorrow I will make rosewater cream soap. If the sun, moon and stars are right......or if my head isn't popping off from everything that's happening today!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

pumpkin cake with sour cream frosting

this week i will give you the pumpkin cake recipe i make for all my referral sources and friends.

snakes are not our friends

My husband loves our new property. He has big plans for the wooded area on the east side of it. Last week he told me that he found some elderberries on it, so Saturday I decided to give it a look.
Now, if you know anything about me (or women in general) you know that snakes are our natural enemies and that woods generally have all kinds of these critters in them.
However, I REALLY wanted these elderberries.
I armed myself with bugspray, long pants, my hiking boots and knapsack. (I forgot the machete' in the jeep)
It was not enough.......
After walking thru briars, falling down an embankment, getting mud and blood all over my face and hands.....he finally appeared...a nice large water moccasin.

That was the last straw for me.
Elderberry syrup, good for respiratory problems and lessening the symptoms of the flu, will have to come from Mountain Rose Herbs this year.
I will plant elderberry bushes in a civilized area, and leave the woods to my husband and the snakes.
Did I mention we ran into a copperhead too?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Will I burn for this?

Yesterday I received two books from my bookclub, "Julie and Julia", and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I have never wanted to cook french food before. In fact, I have cooked almost every ethnic food I can think of, but never once did I have the envie' to make french food.
This is very silly because I am French and French food has been in my life since infancy.
We live in Louisiana, we are Cajun French, why have I not learned to cook these things? Of course, the food of the Acadians is different from Parisian, but it is based in the same butter and flour ideations.
In my lifetime I have cooked Mexican, Italian, German, Indian (east and west), Carribean, Hawaiian, Swedish, Scottish , English, Welsh, well, you get the idea.....
I have bought the great Cajun cookbooks, and made the obligatory Etoufee' and Shrimp Sauce Picante' but, never really tried anything Parisian. (My grandmother would just turn over if she thought I would consider cooking Parisian!)
My mother, when I told I bought the cookbook said, "They don't cook like us"! She said it like an exclamation point, in that very French way (with a shrug of her little French shoulders), as if that was that and I should go no further.
I had to restrain myself from rolling my eyes.
All of my life I have been hearing this phrase from her, my grandmother and all of their little Cajun girlfriends. It's like a mantra here in Louisiana. " Cher' we were thrown out of France and Canada! We will have nothing to do with Paris!" Like a good little Catholic Cajun girl, I repeated it to my little friends and they repeated it to me. We heard this in our sleep. We grew up believing this. this a revelation? LOL. Naw.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking is very interesting, it is what I expected; informative, precise, very easy to understand. I may have to treat my husband to some of the recipes. The Beef Bourg. , now that looks like something he would eat.
The other book, "Julie and Julia" reads just like a blog, it is very wordy and kinda runs together, ( like this) but I am enjoying her angst.
I think I will finish reading it.
If I cook anything from the cookbook, please don't tell my mother.