Archive for October, 2007

29
Oct
07

Lemon Drops

Inspired by one of Jennie’s From Scratch entries, I made a lemon cake with a fluffy white frosting (recipes below) for the October birthdays in John’s family (I know, lemon isn’t very autumnal, but until this weekend autumn wasn’t either).

Jennie posted an easy microwave lemon curd recipe, which I want to try sometime, but I was already using a new cake recipe so for the filling I stuck with Paula Deen’s version, which I’ve made before.

Sorry, I don’t have play-by-play photos. I was flying solo, and I barely got the cake frosted before family arrived. That the frosting got made at all was something of a miracle. I forgot to lower the whirling whisk attachment into the bowl so when I poured the boiling sugar water into the mixer hundreds of droplets flew everywhere glazing me and everything else within a four foot radius with sparkling crystals. Suddenly, capturing the moment in a photo took a back seat to scrubbing down the kitchen and changing my shirt.

Lemon Cake

In fact, I didn’t think to photograph the cake until the next morning when half of it was gone. Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered with the photos, but at least in this picture you can see the layers.

For the cake layers I used a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. It was tender and moist, and unlike a lot of their recipes, fairly simple. Cooks also had a frosting and filling recipe, but they were both more complicated than I had time for. Besides, I already had a good frosting recipe from Cooking Light and, of course, Paula’s lemon curd.

Lemon Curd on Toast

Paula’s recipe makes a little extra so we had it on toast this morning. John made scrambled eggs with lobster left over from another party on Friday night (post still to come).

Lemon Coffee Cup

A little coffee in one of my favorite lemon colored coffee cups that my friend Rosie gave me and we had the near perfect breakfast.

Lemon Cake

A piece of leftover cake finally managed to hit breakfast right out of the park. Why should the first meal of the day be the only one without dessert?

——
Recipes:

Paula Deen’s Lemon Curd

3 large lemons
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Grate the zest from the lemons. Then juice the lemons.

Place the zest and the sugar in a food processor and process until combined.

Add the lemon juice and the eggs and process until smooth.

Slowly add the butter to this mixture, pulsing as you go.

Place the mixture in the top of a double boiler and cook over simmering water for about five minutes until thick. The mixture should coat a spoon. And when you move a spoon along the bottom of the pan a trail should form but fill in behind it. When it reaches this stage remove from heat or it will get clumpy.

To use as a cake filling the lemon curd will need to chill for about four hours. You can keep lemon curd in the frig for about 3 weeks in a jar with plastic wrap on it.

Fluffy Lemon Frosting (Adapted from Cooking Light)

4 large egg whites
½ tsp cream of tarter
Dash of salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl.

Beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 238 degrees.

Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

I decided the cake recipe is way too long for this post, but if anyone wants it I’ll post it separately.

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21
Oct
07

Power Pumpkins

Ace Hardware Pumpkins
I’m not a big fan of getting up early on a Saturday to head to the farmers’ market, which is what you have to do here in Indianapolis to buy most any vegetable or fruit worth having. I like farmers. It’s just that I like sleeping in a wee bit more.

Point in telling is that I needed some pumpkins for the house. I tend to get bored with most pumpkins. We’ve accidentally grown more interesting varieties in the past by tossing our rotting ones on the compost heap, but I guess we didn’t “plant” any last year. Since markets weren’t an option, I’d just about given into the idea of stopping by Kroger for a few. Then, as I was driving by the Ace Hardware store on Westfield Blvd., I saw these!

Ace Hardware Pumpkins

Ace Hardware Pumpkins

Ace Hardware Pumpkins

Aren’t they fun? I bought a few “Cinderella” pumpkins (seriously, that’s what the check out lady called them), and some plain ones for the front porch (they do tend to last longer outside than the fancy ones).

I put the Cinderellas on the buffet along with an arrangement made from the last-gasp of our garden’s hydrangeas (David painted the black, folk art-ish goose).

Tablescape

Fall Tablescape

Turd-nose Cat, a Country Friends find from a few years back (our name for him, not CF’s) seemed happy with his fall digs.

Speaking of Country Friends, the pumpkin folk in this picture are from this season’s collection.

Pumpkin Friends

I found the little skulls, which freak most people out, in a Taos, NM pawnshop. I think they are the bases of crucifixes (typically in religious art, skulls at the base of a cross are a reminder of our mortality or a reference to Golgotha, the hill where Christ was crucified). Anyway, Mabel Dodge Luhan, the NY socialite turned wild-west bohemian, wrote in her book Winter in Taos that a guest asked her about the collection of little skulls on one of her shelves. I imagine that these are those, and that the pawnshop owner didn’t just put another set out on his shelf as soon as I walked out the door.

17
Oct
07

Living Room Touch Ups

Picked up the reupholstered side chairs from T and H upholstery (cost to upholster 2 side chairs and to make three pillows from leftover fabric=$165.00). The chairs, along with the rug, the new sofa (the one on the right), and a few accessories finished the touch ups to the living room.

Living Room After

A before shot:

Living Room Before

The infamous sofa:

New Sofa

Here are the pillows T & H made for me.

Tulip Pillows

I’ve ordered down inserts, but T and H was kind enough to put some fiber fill ones in them so I could still pick them up and enjoy them. The trim is from JoAnne fabrics, and I bought all they had, which wasn’t much. Jean at T & H told me today that a new fabric place has just opened up in Indy- Heritage Fabric and Design Center at 6951 E 30th St. She said their selection is really good. I’m pretty stoked to have a new fabric resource since I’ll probably avoid Calico Corners for awhile. I’ll try to visit this new spot and post about it soon.

I originally bought the tulip fabric for the chairs, but the pattern was too big so I used the stripe leftover from the bedroom wingback instead. Even the stripe is a bit too big, but I needed to use up some of my supply. Every once in a while I have to throw my practical side a bone.

Chair

04
Oct
07

Rumors Confirmed! Country Friends to Re-open.

I’m sure they just seemed like rumors to me because I’m not in the loop, but who cares? Just in time for the Holidays.

CF

02
Oct
07

I Hope This Isn’t a Cruel Joke

Someone named Amy left this comment in my last Country Friends post:

“Country Friends is re opening the first of October in the 71st and Allisonville area. Just give them a call.”

This is close to where the “warehouse” used to be. I wonder…

Does anyone else have any more information?

02
Oct
07

The Letter I Didn’t Send to Calico Corners

Probably should have. I changed the actual names of people in the letter to Helpful and Buzzkill.

I came into the store this morning with a friend who was helping me select fabric for two chairs. As we shopped I noticed a sofa that I liked by the entrance. Helpful, who was helping us with fabric selection, also gave me information about the sofa. I mentioned that I might like to buy it if my partner, John who was not with us at the time, also approved. Helpful told me to call her if I needed her to put a hold on it.

After I described the sofa to John he said he wanted to see it. So I called Helpful and asked her to put it on hold. She said she would, so we drove back to the store from downtown Indianapolis where we live.

Not long after we arrived and sat on the sofa to try it, a woman whom I recognized from the sign next to the store entrance as Buzzkill, the in-store designer, approached us.

With something of a sneer Buzzkill said, “That sofa is sold.” I thought she might be referring to the hold that was placed on it and explained that I was actually the person Helpful was holding it for and pointed to the tag pinned to the sofa that had my name and contact information on it. Buzzkill said something to the effect that her customer had held it at noon. Then she asked me when I had asked Helpful to hold it. I told her that when I called Helpful at about 2:00 she said it was still available. I also mentioned that if it were not available when I called I would have appreciated knowing because that information would have saved me another 25-minute drive to the store that day. There was no hold tag on the sofa other than mine.

Annoyed, I went to look for Helpful to let her know that there was a problem, something Buzzkill should have done first rather than arguing with me over when the hold was placed. Helpful was unaware of any other hold and said so, at which point, Buzzkill said she was holding it for her daughter and that she could let me know Monday whether or not it was still available. Disappointed and unbelievably angry, John and I left.

Later, I called Helpful again to say that I was not happy with the way Buzzkill had treated us and that we were interested in the sofa but only if we could purchase it today. Helpful called back to say that she had just been told holds were not allowed on sale items after all and that I could purchase the sofa today if I wanted. I gave her my credit card information and let her know we would pick it up shortly, which we did. Helpful was, as she always is, friendly and accommodating. A third associate was also helpful and even kind enough to deliver the sofa to our home, which we very much appreciated.

Miscommunications understandably happen, but I must say, Buzzkill seemed to go out of her way to make my partner and I feel like trespassers in your store. I will not speculate on the reason for her behavior, but her tone was accusatory and condescending until I approached Helpful to discuss the matter. Even then, I found it insulting to be told by Buzzkill that a mind-noted hold for her family member was priortized over a customer hold that was actually recorded and tagged.

By the time the purchase was complete I felt like an inconvenience rather than a paying customer.

I appreciate the quality of your product and have been very satisfied with past purchases. As I mentioned, other members of your staff are very helpful. Today’s transaction, however, has me feeling ambivalent about a future trip to your store.

Believe it or not, the sofa is worth the mess we went through to get it. (Picture to come.)