Thursday, April 30, 2020

Do You Remember Door Dashing?

Kids used to knock on the doors of their neighbors and then dash away. It was called Door-Dashing or Ding Dong Ditch - do you remember it?

Well, our family did it, like most things, only differently - especially on May 1st.

We'd make May Baskets and hang them on the  neighbors' doors. Then we'd knock on the door and dash away. We'd  usually hide somewhere and watch what happened when they found a basket - or cone - filled with flowers hanging on their doorknobs. That was they way Mom taught us to celebrate the  beginning of spring. 

May Day has been celebrated for centuries as the time of festivals to herald the beginning of spring and what better way to celebrate spring than with a basket (or cone) of flowers?

Here's how I used to make these little gifts to give to friends and neighbors.

I hope you have a bloom-filled May Day!

And, if you make any of these May Day baskets,  or if you remember the tradition of  hanging them on the doorknobs or neighbors,  please share in the comments below.

Monday, April 27, 2020

DIY Victory Garden

Victory Gardens were a common sight during World War I and World War II. They were started to help supplement rations and keep up morale. 

And, gardening can be more than useful. It can be fun.  Plus, you can have your kids help you create this garden and even start it inside the house using old plastic pop bottles, as makeshift greenhouses.

Homemade Greenhouses
Seeing herbs, vegetables and fruits, you've planted from cuttings and seeds, sprout and bloom is thrilling to watch.

Victory Gardens were also called Food Gardens or War Gardens. And since this historical pandemic is a World Wide War against the Coronavirus or Covid-19,  I think it can’t hurt to have some extra food in our own yards. 

Most of us who live in a big city, have already experienced some shortages at local grocery stores,  such as flour, sugar, yeast, and  toilet paper. So, although we  might not be able to do much to stop the toilet paper shortages, we can try to limit some of our own food shortages—at least during the spring, summer and fall by being a little proactive and starting our own small Victory Gardens and by preparing our own jellies, jams, and preserves.

So, I thought I’d share some tricks, tips and ideas I’ve been using to create my own personal Victory Garden. I live in a big city, on a small city lot, but I've found ways to grow-up rather than to grow-across a wide area. And, if you live in an apartment, you can grow plants in pots and out on balconies, or in shared spaces. Some cities even have community gardens, where you can share a plot of land to garden on.

I’m hoping these ideas might help other people build their own Victory Gardens.

Here is a small list of

  •  Don't waste food.
  • When you have food that starts to spoil, such as potatoes, onions, beets, etc. think about whether or not you can take a cutting from the vegetable and plant it out in your garden. 
  • You can use old wood to make stakes, trellises and tomato cages to grow your plants up toward the sky.

This is the top of a  potato I cut off, while I was preparing a pot of potatoes for dinner. I simply stuck some bamboo skewers in the cutting and placed it in a cup of water. The raw edge of the potato barely touched the water (using a type of hydroponic gardening) or gardening without having the plant in soil. Usually people amend the water (or enrich it with nutrient mineral solutions), when they hydroponically garden. But, I simply placed my potato cutting in a little water inside a coffee mug. Then I watched it grow.

Some people have simply planted rotting potatoes and had a lot of success that way.

I'm hoping you'll try this because it's one way to help stretch your food budget and keep your food supply within reach.

And, if you try your hand at a Victory Garden, please let me know. I'd love to hear how you do.

I’m also planning to share some of my successes and failures growing my own sour dough starters. Sour Dough starters can help you always have access to bread, even if the store is out of yeast or bags of bread. :D

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Fears, Flops and Total Fails

Barely a Bear
I usually only post my best work. I mean who wants to post their worst failures--but, believe me, I've had my share of flops and failures. See, the little bear (above) who literally collapsed before I could even frost him? Or, the sad turkey below that shouldn't have been so afraid of Thanksgiving because he looked so sorry, no one would want to eat him.

Super Sad Turkey
 Or what about the time I'd seen one too many episodes of Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes , so I thought I could carve a cake into the shape of my brother-in-law Bo?
Bo Knows but this time Bo Blows
Or the time I decided to make cupcakes when it was about 100 degrees outside and my frosting kept melting?
Dragonfly Frosting Fail
Or the time my homemade marshmallow fondant was a complete flop?

Fondant Failure
I could go on and on, but the one thing I'm proud of is the fact that I haven't let my previous failures stop me. Instead, I push the fear of my next failure to the back of my brain and simply try to learn something from each of my (admittedly) horrible flops and failures and move on.

And, by letting go of my disasters, I've had some really happy moments. Such as:

Fatina's Graduation Barbie Cake - Because You're Never Too Old for Barbie
The graduation cake I made for my daughter-in-law, Fatina.

And, the Hello Kitty cake I made for a friend's daughter's birthday.

Hello Kitty
Or the wedding cake I made for my friend (with my daughter-in-law's help).

I Do Instead of iDud

My point is, sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves and pick up our wounded pride and simply strive to be the best we can be. And--of course don't be so silly as to compare yourself to the Cake Boss or the Ace of Cakes. Instead, simply have fun with your friends and family and learn to laugh with them when things go wrong because that's the best way to make it through to another day.

Family Laughing at my Flops

Monday, April 13, 2020

Bunny Cake

Easter 2020 Bunny Cake

I've always loved to bake but I've had more than my share of baking fails. In fact, I had a near disaster with this bunny at the very beginning - but more about that in a minute. 

First, I wanted to see if there might be other people out there that like to bake, make and create. If so,  please share links to your blogs in the comments so I can pop over there and see what you're making.

Anyway, I thought I'd share how I made this bunny cake.

First I baked the cakes (3 of them) in 6 inch baking tins. And, right away I had problems. I was trimming one of the tops of the cakes to make them all level and I got distracted because I was boiling eggs at the same time. I was checking on the eggs as I was leveling the cakes and...I trimmed the top off the cake horribly. 

You can see how it broke apart. But I just wedged it back together and used a little butter cream (I've added a link to my butter cream frosting recipe) to "glue" it together. My point is, don't give up because of one set back.

Then I crumb coated the cake in homemade butter cream (which is simply powdered sugar mixed with butter and maybe a tablespoon of milk or cream). I always crumb coat on a silpat so I can easily slip the cake off and onto a cutting board. (Crumb Coating - is simply covering the cake in a thin layer of frosting and then putting it in the fridge to set).

Then I rolled out my fondant on  a little cornstarch - to keep the fondant from sticking to the table. TIP: don't do this on a hot day because cooking is like picnicking. The weather plays a big part in your success. And I've had some fondant fails due to weather.

Then I put the fondant over the crumb-coated cakes and trimmed it around the edge. Adding a ribbon around the bottom makes it looked finished and almost professional.

Then I began decorating.

I used Fondant to make the facial features and "glued" them on using buttercream and  meringue paste. 

The finishing touch was the ears but I had another problem there. I thought I had gum paste but I didn't. So, I took some left over fondant and made ears. I stuck them on bamboo skewers and put the in the freezer to harden up until after dinner. Then I pulled them out off the freezer and stuck them in place. But even then, I'd forgotten about the whiskers until my son pointed it out. Luckily, I had some toothpicks in the kitchen. I sprinkled some jelly bean eggs around the edge and Voila the cake was finished.

The family said the cake tasted good … and I believed them but no one wanted to eat the poor bunny's face. And, probably because the fondant was pretty thick there, just look at the nose and cheeks ;D

So this cake was a fun family dessert that everyone enjoyed - including me ;D I had a piece too but I'm always a little biased so  I like to see what  the family thinks.

But, this wasn't my first bunny cake. Over the years I've made a few other Easter cakes.

These bunny cupcakes are a fun, easy project. This bunny is diving down into the hole. So, he was super simple to make

I was looking back  over the years and I guess I've made more than my share of cakes. If you've made some fun cakes too, please share a link to your blog or send a picture, I'd love to see them.

I hope you all stay well and enjoy some creative days, making, baking and creating :D