Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday: All Hallow's Eve Eve & Spiced Tea

We make a point of staying home to hand out candy to trick or treaters, and it's always nice to have a pot of hot spiced tea simmering on the stove to enjoy between revelers. Here's the recipe our entire family has grown to love over many years:

Spiced Tea
1 heaping teaspoon whole cloves
½ cinnamon stick
3 cups water
Place cloves, cinnamon stick and water in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer gently while you complete the rest of the tea.
12 cups water
6 tea bags (I use Salada)
2 lemons, juiced
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 cups orange juice
Bring water to a boil in a very large pot. Turn off heat, add tea bags, cover and steep for 5 minutes or so. Squeeze tea bags dry and discard. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add orange and lemon juices, stirring. Remove cloves and cinnamon stick from the spice water in the small saucepan. Add spice water to the tea and stir.
Serves a LARGE crowd (18 or more cups). Great for cold days: Can be left on a burner on very low heat all day, ready when you are. This recipe is easily halved for a smaller batch.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Year Ago Today: The Beginning - Guittard Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

One year ago today, this blog was born. Although none of us are prolific posters, it's important to have a space where we can celebrate small things. So far, FOOD dominates our posts ... that's not much of a surprise, is it?

Here's our FAVORITE celebratory cake; now you can find the recipe 24/7. We seem to make this more often than any other. So often, in fact, that the aging recipe is permanently taped to inside of the spice cabinet door! It's also the cake that appears in the masthead photo for this blog.

  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • 3 lg. eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 c. water
  • 2 c. unsifted flour
  • 2/3 c. Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa (Guittard is BEST, but Ghiradelli is good too)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
Sift together the dry ingredients and set them aside. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat well (for several minutes). Add the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the water.
Pour the batter into well-greased and floured cake pans lined with wax paper. Makes three 8" layers, or two 9” layers. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack; remove from pan after 6 minutes to finish cooling.
White Chocolate Frosting
6 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (baker’s)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
Bring cream almost to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add white chocolate, stirring until completely smooth. Stir in vanilla and water. Cool, stirring occasionally. Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add powered sugar and beat for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. On low speed, add white chocolate mixture and blend until desired consistency is reached.
Frosts and fills a 9” layer cake.
Note: Dark chocolate curls are beautiful on top of the cake!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stone Room

Since Mom wants us to pause and think about something relatively pleasant every day, I'm adding in my thoughts about my work study job on the 7th floor at PAFA. The stone carving room overlooks a demolition site, future home of the Philadelphia Convention Center. While most people view construction as noisy, dirty, and generally obnoxious, I actually quite enjoy watching the tonka trucks shuffle around dirt and huge cranes hoist even huger burdens. Plus, the sky is wide open in that direction since there is no building to block the view. So I get a blue sky and some fresh air coming in through the window, amidst a bunch of sculptures.