Sunday, April 28, 2013

Orange Chiffon Cake

A birthday cake for the Farmer!
This cake is one of my sister's favourite
cakes that she makes for her family's
Now I know why - it's delicious.

This recipe is from a dear neighbour
that we had as kids.
Agnes was a lovely lady and my mom
appreciated her as a friend and good neighbour.
Agnes claimed that this cake
often took first prize at the local
Wellesley Fall Fair - I'm not surprised.

Orange Chiffon Cake

1 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ Cups Sugar
3 tsp.  Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt
½ Cup Vegetable or Salad Oil
2 Egg yolks (unbeaten)
¾ Cup cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. grated orange rind
1 Cup Egg Whites (7)
½ tsp. cream of tarter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Measure flour without sifting, add sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir thoroughly to blend.
Make a hollow, add in this order – oil, egg yolks, cold water, vanilla, and orange rind.  Mix with electric mixer until smooth.
Measure egg whites into a large mixing bowl – add cream of tarter, blend and beat until very stiff peaks are formed.
Pour egg yolk mixture over beaten egg whites – folding gently till blended.
Pour into an ungreased 10” X 4” tube pan.  Bake in slow oven for 55 minutes then increase the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.
Cake is done when top springs back when touched lightly.  Turn pan upside down resting pan on bottom of glass tumbler.

Orange Butter Icing:
¼ Cup soft butter
2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. orange juice
½ tsp. lemon extract – optional
2 tsp. grated orange rind for flavouring
Hint - this didn't make quite enough icing so I made an extra 1/2 batch.

Thanks Evelyn, for sharing the recipe "Agnes' Orange Chiffon Cake"
It might just become the farmers favourite Birthday Cake too.

Till next time ..... enjoying the sudden turn in weather to double digit temps and sunshine!!!!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Will this be the year there was
no Spring??
The last few days held such promise!
Today, not so much.

The daffodils are trying their best
in spite of the snow today.

The violets are trying to keep
their little heads above the snow.

The pussy willows were 
rescued ...

Looks like we'll just have to 
wait a little longer and be patient.
In the meantime, we'll enjoy some 
flowers on the dining room table.....

Has your Spring sprung yet???

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Povitica Bread

Povitica – Eastern European Dessert Bread

Pronounced as “Po-va-teet-sa” this sweet bread is often made for special occasions and holidays.  I saw this recipe quite some time ago and have wanted to try making it sometime. Today is another blustery day with below zero temperatures and snow!!!  The perfect kind of Saturday to do some yeast baking and this was my challenge for today. Sometimes I think I could quit work just so I could stay home and play with yeast dough. Wouldn't that be fun?!

Anyway, this recipe was quite challenging and I can see where you need to make it often to really get the hang of it – I didn’t get the dough stretched enough and that probably takes some practice to get it just right.  Also it could have been rolled up more tightly!

Here is the recipe for one loaf.

Dough starter:
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. warm water
1 ½ tsp. dry yeast
Gently stir together in a small bowl – cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 5 minutes till bubbly.

In mixer bowl stir together:
½ Cup hot milk (I heated mine in the microwave) – cooled slightly
1 Tbsp. butter – melted in the hot milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1 whole egg – beaten with a fork
½ vanilla bean scraped – I stirred this into the hot milk
Yeast mixture
2 Cups all-purpose flour – mix in with dough hook ¼ Cup at a time till it comes together. Knead till smooth and doesn’t stick.

Put dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a warm T-towel. Let rise till double (approx. 1 ½ hours).

While the dough is rising prepare the filling.
1 ¾ Cup ground walnuts
¼ Cup milk - heated
¼ Cup unsalted butter (I used salted butter)
1 Egg yolk  - beaten with a fork (save the egg white for glaze)
½ vanilla bean – scraped
½ Cup sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
Mix the nuts, sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a bowl.
Heat the milk and butter.  Add the sugar and vanilla bean scrapings.  Cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolk.  Pour liquid over the nuts, sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.

1 Egg white – whisked with a fork or sometimes 1/3 Cup of strong coffee is used
1 ½ tsp. sugar to sprinkle on top of loaf.

1 Tbsp. melted butter to brush on stretched dough.

When dough has risen turn it onto a lightly floured large tea towel or bed sheet.  With a rolling pin roll out the dough into a rectangle shape and as thin as possible. Brush on the melted Tbsp. of butter and continue to stretch till the dough is paper thin.

Now spread the walnut mixture filling on to the stretched dough, being careful not to tear the dough (I used my fingers to spread the mixture). If the mixture is too dry to spread, add a bit more warm milk.

Roll the dough from the long side into a long “sausage shape”.  Gently lift it up and place into a greased loaf pan in a “U” shape, folding the ends into the center – this makes the swirly effect.  Brush the glaze onto the loaf and sprinkle with sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap and a warm T-towel again and let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake loaf at 350F for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 300F and bake for another 30-40 minutes.  If loaf starts to get too dark, cover with foil for the last minutes of baking.

Let loaf rest in the pan for 30 minutes before removing.

It's not perfect but tastes delicious.

This loaf is enjoyed as a dessert bread and left overs are delicious made into French Toast!

I would like to experiment with using different fillings as well (i.e. raspberry sauce and coconut, or savoury fillings such as tomato and pesto and pinenuts, etc.).  

Till next time ...... still hoping that Spring arrives soon and that the daffodils open their little heads.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mom's Vanilla Pie

I've been making a "pie of the month" since January and for my April pie I chose to make 
Mom's Vanilla Pie.  I'm not sure why it's called this because it is more like a Maple Syrup Pie and 
it resembles shoo-fly pie!  Mom's Vanilla Pie was the farmer's absolute favourite pie that my mom
made - and she made a lot of pies!!

Her recipes were vague with measurements like "heaping" or "scant" and no methods were given.  I followed her instructions as best I could and hoped for the best.

This is how she wrote down the recipe - I've added my tweaks in italic:

Vanilla Pie

Makes 3 pies - I made half the recipe for one large pie
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Cups warm water
1 heaping Tbsp. corn starch
2 tsp. vanilla 
1 egg
Boil and cool - I lightly whisked the ingredients together and stirred it as it boiled and thickened.
    The syrup thickened but looked a bit curdled.  I added a Tbsp. of butter and the vanilla and then
   let it cool slightly.

Pour the slightly cooled syrup into an unbaked pie shell and top with crumbs.

1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 Cup Butter or Lard - I used butter
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients and spoon on top of the syrup filling

Bake at 375F for 25 min. - I started the oven off hotter for 5 minutes and then lowered the temp. to 375F - mine got a bit over baked and dark so I should have followed Mom's instructions closer on this!

This pie was always served with a nice splash of fresh maple syrup and we like it with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream too.  Definitely a "sweet tooth" kind of dessert.  The farmer approved - so I guess it was a success......

Oh my, it's almost midnight and 1/2 the pie is gone!  Oops.

There you have it - my April Pie post!

Till next time ............... hoping that April showers will indeed bring May flowers - oh, how I could use a bouquet of fresh Spring flowers right now!!

BTW - I have the new Mennonite Girls Can Cook "Celebrations" book and am thoroughly enjoying it!  It's like a fresh breath of Spring and Flowers.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ice Storm 2013

The day before the BIG storm

The ice storm that was predicted
came with a vengeance!
We heard the wind and rain during the night
and woke to a chilly and dark house
on Friday morning.
A quick call to Hydro One revealed that
power would be off till 11 p.m.
I made the decision to go to work
if the roads were O.K. and if there was power there.
Off I went, unshowered, with a quick
face wash and a bit of make-up.
I was shocked as I drove out the lane,
dodging fallen branches, there and on
the roads ahead – such devastation!

I worked all day not thinking much about the
power that we all depend on at home.
I knew
that we had a good woodstove to warm the
house and lots of candles for soft lighting.
Sounds romantic until you find out that the power
could be off for an additional 48-72 hours!
By now the temperature had come above freezing
and the ice was falling off the bent and stressed limbs
in large dangerous chunks.
Branches were broken down everywhere
and hydro poles had fallen by the

That’s when survival mode kicks in.
What will happen with the food in the freezer?
Much less the refrigerator??
We unloaded the fridge into large plastic bins
and set them out onto the cold deck,
piled layers of newspaper on the frozen food
in the freezer and hoped for the best.
By now there was no water so
a plastic barrel was quickly placed under
the eaves trough spout to catch some of
the falling rain water – we were camping!

I have to admit that I was bewildered and getting
very grumpy – it’s crazy how much we depend on hydro
for almost everything – even one’s happiness!
Not to mention cleanliness……

Thank goodness that Wellesley had power and
I was able to go to my sister’s and have a shower.
We also borrowed their generator and cooled
down the fridge and the freezer.
Thanks Evelyn and Richard!

Lessons learned – purchase a generator soon
- water is precious
- stay calm and carry on
- bodum coffee is very good
- chicken soup heated on the woodstove is delicious
- many people are worse off than we are
- be thankful!

12:30 p.m. Sunday - back on the grid - hurray!

Till next time ....... the mailbox needed to be replaced and the freezer needed to be defrosted and cleaned sometime anyways!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fisherman's Chowder En Croute

I once had a recipe for a great seafood chowder but can’t find it anywhere – does that ever happen to you? It was from a cooking show I loved to watch in the early ‘80s called “What’s Cooking”.  This is the closest thing to that elusive recipe that I could come up with:

½  sweet Onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – minced
3-4 Tbsp. butter
In a soup pot sauté onions and garlic in butter till just tender and translucent.
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup White wine
1-2 Stalks celery – chopped
1-2 large carrots – diced
1-2 potatoes – diced
½ Red pepper – diced
1-2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Slowly cook till vegetables are tender and stock is slightly reduced
In a separate frying pan poach seafood gently in a bit of chicken broth
I like to use:
1 fillet cod – cut into bite sized pieces
1 fillet salmon – cut into bite sized pieces
1 Cup sea scallops
1 Cup salad shrimp
Any combination of sea food you enjoy (approx. 4 Cups)
Once poached - use a slotted spoon to remove and add to the vegetables and stock.  Reduce the poaching stock in frying pan and add to soup.
Thicken the soup with ¼ Cup water and 2 Tbsp. flour if needed or thin with extra chicken stock.
Lower the heat and add a good splash of whipping cream – stirring till warmed through – do not boil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and serve immediately or chill if serving en croute.  Can be made a day in advance.

En Croute (this is how we like it the best):
Preheat oven to 400F
Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.  Roll out dough and cut to 1” larger than each soup bowl, keeping everything as cold as possible.  Divide cold soup between 4 oven safe bowls.  Place bowls onto a baking tray.  Brush underside edges of each pastry with an egg wash and place over filled soup bowl – sealing pastry to sides of bowl.  Brush top of pastries with remaining egg wash and put into hot oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes till pastry puffs and bakes to a golden brown.

This was the perfect soup for a cold April Saturday evening.....

Till next time ....... still hoping for Spring!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Milk Calendar Notes

The Whistling/Trumpeter Swans

Every Spring I watch for
the Whistling or Trumpeter Swans
to land in the field across the road,
on "Ivan Brunk's" field as we still call it.
Ivan and Dorothy have been gone
for many years but we still refer to that farm as such.
My Milk Calendar says that a few years ago they
arrived in early March.

There has been no sign of them for a few years,
perhaps because that field had crops other
then corn?

On Easter Sunday the farmer noticed 
they had arrived - hundreds of them!
It looked like a huge snow drift from a distance
and it sounded like there was a party going on
with cheers of Whoo Hoo.
Such magnificent birds - they're huge when
you get up close and personal!

These magnificent Eastern migrating birds fly
from the shores of Maryland and North Carolina
and are on their one way approx. 4,500 mile trip to
the N.W.T.
They take their time and feed in the open corn fields
along the way as Spring advances.

I made a note in my 2013 Milk Calendar
(which holds all my appointments, birthdates,
special events etc.) 
to watch for them again next year!
I hope that field is planted with corn again this Spring.

Safe travels as you head North,
over the prairies and
on to the MacKenzie River Delta  ......

Till next time......checking the calendar for this weekend's events (Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, Fund Raising Chicken orders due, Stratford's Swan Parade, Marie's birthday, Mark's birthday, etc.)

Monday's Mood

  Today my mood matches the weather! Might it be because it is Monday, dreary, rainy and cold? Is it because the "naked lady'' ...