Spring Is Here!

I’m swamped with work today (not necessarily a bad thing), so this is sort of a “quickie” post, but I thought I’d share a little of our absolutely gorgeous Saturday with you.

It was a day for:

Pink Tulips

Pink tulips…

Raised Beds

…raised beds…

Barefoot

…running barefoot in the grass…

Strawberry Chocolate Coffee Cake

…and strawberry-chocolate coffee cake.

There is absolutely nothing more beautiful than a clear Spring day in northeast Ohio.

Has Spring sprung in your neck of the woods yet?

Trick or Treat Has Obviously Become Passe

The fun has been sucked right out of Halloween, all in the name of “safety.”  Kids trick or treat in the middle of the afternoon on the weekend before Halloween, if it falls on a weekday.  Or they trick or treat at the mall – there were kids trick-or-treating in our local grocery store last week, for crying out loud.  Some parents take it even further, if Alton Brown was to be believed on Good Morning, America today, and don’t let their kids trick or treat at all – they have a party and call it good.

I’m certainly not in favor of letting kids eat twelve tons of refined sugar, given a boost by carcinogenic artificial food colors, but this is Halloween, for crying out loud – is it so wrong to let your kids trick or treat (chaperoned by an adult, of course) on the evening of the actual holiday?  I’ll be 50 years old in December, and neither I nor anyone I’ve ever met has ever received an apple with a razor blade in it, or been carried off by a psychopath.  In fact, with the single exception of a child who was poisoned by his own parent for the insurance money (and that happened many, many years ago), I’ve never heard of any of the bad things that people seem so frightened of ever happening while trick-or-treating.

At any rate, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Halloween, the scariest of all holidays, has been robbed of it’s bite, so to speak.  We haven’t had a child young enough to actually go trick-or-treating in many years and stopped giving out candy when we changed our diet two years ago.  But now there’s The G Man and his mom, who is VERY big on childhood traditions (and good for her!).  She, too, mourns the passing of the time honored tradition of trick-or-treating the evening of Halloween, so when she couldn’t find a neighborhood within driving distance that actually did it, she at least found one where they did it in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., even if it was the Saturday before.

We didn’t go – both of us are working on big projects, Beloved for the business and me on a personal one – but here is a pic of our little trick-or-treater, who stopped by Meema and Poppa’s house before embarking on his sugar-laden yearly tradition:

G Man and the Neverland Pirates
G Man and the Neverland Pirates

Yup – that would be our little rough-and-tumble bundle of joy dressed up as Jake from the Disney Jr. show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  (If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know WHAT you’re missing.)

With the exception of the time Meema made a gargantuan mistake and bought G a ring pop while we were out running errands one Saturday morning (you wouldn’t believe a kid could bounce off the sides of a moving vehicle while strapped in a car seat, but he managed it), we simply don’t give him crap.  We really don’t have to, because he loves things like fruit, cheese and nuts, so that’s what he gets as “treats” at our house.  Now, having said that, we did give him a handful of gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins when he stopped by to show off his costume, for what is a pirate without gold doubloons?

At any rate, we wish we’d gone with them, for Jolly told us that The G Man had a bit of trouble with the whole “trick or treat” concept.  Perhaps he simply thinks it’s rude, because instead of running up to houses and shouting, “Trick or Treat!” he held out his bag and politely said, “Please, may I have some candy?  Thank you!”

I’m buying him an ascot for Christmas.

For more Halloween Show and Tell posts, run over and visit Gretchen and the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.  She may not have candy, but I hear she makes a wicked martini.

The Daisy Cake

If you’ve been reading here any length of time at all, you know that I once spent 10 years as a professional cake decorator.  This was 20 years ago, but it’s one of those things that, once you know it (and do it for 12 – 16 hours a day, 6 days a week), you never forget how it’s done.   And as I mentioned when I showed the pictures of the Tractor Cake, while it’s a stressful occupation, cake decorating makes a wonderful hobby.

At any rate, word of the Tractor Cake got around, and another friend approached me to do a cake for a small graduation party she was having for her daughter.  This one was a little different – the young lady in question didn’t want fondant, as this was to be an “eating” cake.  LOL  What she wanted was a chocolate cake with mocha icing and aqua-colored gerber daisies.

I had no problem with the chocolate or mocha parts, but the daisies left me at a bit of a loss – they’re not exactly something you can pipe out of icing, especially the icing I was planning on using for this cake.  (The icing was Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Neoclassic Buttercream with the addition of melted bittersweet chocolate, instant coffee dissolved in a little hot water, and a couple of tablespoons of Kahlua.   You can find the basic recipe here, and while it says it is easier to use a hand mixer to make it, I prefer using my KitchenAid stand mixer.)  Nor did I think they would quite work with fondant, either – fondant is fairly soft, and while it will dry and become stiff, it never completely hardens.  It’s more like clay.

So I decided I’d use gum paste for the daisies, a medium I’d never worked in before.  I’m pleased to say that the flowers came out better than I could have hoped for – I made them Friday night, and they were completely dry by Saturday morning when it was time to decorate.  I’m also pleased to say the cake came out beautifully; I was a little dubious about the combination of brown and aqua, but it was really lovely.

Gerber Daisy Cake
Gerber Daisy Cake
Gerber Daisy Cake Detail
Gerber Daisy Cake Detail