Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meanwhile in Maine on March 29th.....

James' bright spot sculpture "Leap, run, leaping" always give a nice splash of colour to the whitened landscape.
 Yes folks it's March 29th and this is the scene out my back windows today - it's snowy again - what's remarkable is that this time last week we had all the windows and doors open and a balmy breeze was blowing through with delicious smells of spring - it was 85F.

All is not lost though as we are heading forth to warmer weather and we're finally on the backside of winter. Also this late snow is welcomed here in Maine and they call it "Poor Man's Fertilizer" because it provides a last shot of nitrogen to the soil.
Through the branches to the woods beyond.
 I do love this kind of now that sticks to everything and makes it a wonderland of beauty.
and lo - as I look out of the window now there's a glimmer of light in the sky and the promise of sun a bit later today!

Well Easter is soon upon us and I am pondering what pudding (dessert) to make for the occasion - I am caught between Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding and a Steamed Easter Pudding with nutmeg Sauce - this is a blond version of Christmas Pudding and is a lot lighter in texture - What do you think dear Readers?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Upside Down Maple Syrup Cake for Maine Maple Sunday

Our first daffodil bloomed today - about two weeks earlier than usual but I can't say I wasn't thrilled to see it!
Not a very thick cake but still a very good cake - chewy, syrupy goodness abounds!
This year the maple syrup tapping started early and I wasn't aware I should have my buckets out until a couple of weeks ago - as soon as I realized I was missing the sap boat I put my little buckets out and garnered myself about 2 pints of the Maine liquid gold!!
This coming Sunday is Maine Maple Sunday when many of the sugar houses are open to the public and you can buy all manner of delightful Maple Syrup products as well as seeing how the syrup is produced in the 'sugaring down' process.

In honour of this day and in order to make something somewhat British with my stash of Maine gold I decided to make a Maine Maple Upside Down Cake I have been eyeballing for a while from a very old issue of British Country Living. The recipe turned out to be a little odd once I started using it in that it didn't give me an oven temperature and the cake part was kinda flimsy and I think in retrospect should have been twice the amount they stated - but with recipes you live and learn - so many recipes don't come out right the first time and you have to tweak them so bear that in mind the next time a recipe doesn't work well - it may not be you but the recipe itself!!

Always read the recipe through first to make sure you know in what order to do things!!


2oz/60g butter
2oz/60g sugar
6 fluid ounces/18cl of maple syrup
2oz/60g of walnuts, or pecans if you prefer, broken into good sized pieces.
Pinch of salt if you like that tangy flavour

1. Melt all above ingredients together on low heat in a pan until it foams as below - not a very good photograph but the steam kept fogging up my lens.
2. Pour this sugary goodness into a glass dish about 21/2" deep and 7" across - I bet you could do it in an 8" round also - then crumble the 2 oz of walnut over as below - allow to cool.
Now make the cake part: Pre-heat oven to 350F
CAKE INGREDIENTS: This is the amount I used in accordance with the magazine recipe but if you want more 'cake' then do double this part of the recipe.

1oz/30g butter
3 rounded tablespoons of sugar
1 large egg beaten
5oz/125g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 fluid oz/10cl whole milk

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add beaten egg in 3 goes and beat well in between - if it curdles a little that's OK - it will come together again with the addition of the flour.
3. Sift dry ingredients together - add a third of the flour to the butter mix - then half of the milk then another third of the flour then the other half of the milk and finally the last of the flour and stir well between each of these additions until you get a smooth batter like this -
4. Now gently dot the batter over the maple and nut mix being careful not to push it down into the maple mix thus:
5. Gently smooth over with a wet palette knife or back of a spoon thus:
6. Now pop into your pre-heated oven and bake for about 35 minutes (the recipe said 25-30) but mine took a good 35 - start checking at 25 for doneness - recipe is done when the top is pretty evenly browned:
7. Remove from oven and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before turning upside down on to a plate and there you have a sticky, glistening maple delight.
Happy Maine Maple Sunday and let me know how your cake came out - Patricia :)))

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Creating a Pattern Patisserie Grab Button - hopefully!!

I just created this Grab Button for my blog - this blog - I am trying to figure out how to make it work so that other bloggers can grab the code for this button and kindly put it on their blog so their fans can come visit me - if I place this button in a post then I can find the URL for the image and HOPEFULLY then make the button and I think perhaps I do know maybe what the heck I am saying here???

Oops - I tried it out and it needs to be smaller - maybe this size will work?

Yes that looks like the right size - now I have to find someone or someway to use it and see if it really does work.
If you want to generate your own grab button this is where I did mine Bon Chance with that!

Date, Walnut and Guinness Cake for Saint Patrick’s Day 2012

Dark, nutty, moist - this is a GREAT cake.
This is a good one - get baking with you!!
This cake smells divine when it is just out of the oven and is a truly delicious morsel slathered with a nice layer of salted butter and a steaming hot cup of, if you can get it, Barry’s Tea. What a
wonderful way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!!

From "Irish Baking Book" by Ruth Isabel Ross

Leave your ingredients out to warm to room temperature for a better rise in your cake.
 8oz chopped dates

2oz chopped walnuts
4oz butter (I nearly always use salted for the taste)

7oz sugar

10oz white flour

7oz of Guinness or water if you prefer

1 egg well beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda/bicarb

I tablespoon milk

Pre-heat oven to 325F and grease either one 9” round cake tin, a small (6” round) high (3”) cake tin like mine in picture below (I like small high cakes) or two 1lb loaf pans – then line chosen tin with parchment paper to about 1.5” above the top of the pan – this helps shape the cake if it rises above the level of the pan (as mine did) and also stops the top from browning too much – although do check baking a couple of times and if the top is still browning too much add a tin foil hat.

1. Put the chopped dates in a pan, add the Guinness or water and bring to a boil, take off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes.

2. Add the butter cut in 8 or so pieces, stir and allow to melt.

3. Allow to cool about 10 minutes.

4. Now add the sugar, walnuts and egg and mix well.

5. Next sift the flour over the mix in three batches and mix well in between each addition.

6. Mix the baking soda with the milk and fold into cake mix.

7. Pile the delicious batter into chosen tin and pop in the oven for about 1 1/2hours – like I said above check on it to see the top isn’t browning too much.

8. Use a bamboo skewer or tooth pick to test cake for doneness – skewer should come out clean.
My well used small but tall cake pan (6 round by 3 high) which bakes very evenly and more quickly than it's non-removable bottom counterparts!
 9. Leave in cake pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out, remove paper and allow to cool on a wire rack – wait until almost totally cold before cutting as it will cut better when cold – but perhaps like me you can’t wait that long!!!

10. EAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT – preferably with a nice spread of butter – Kerrygold would be a treat if you can find it – of course I use Kate’s from Maine.
Oh oh - looks like some naughty Leprachaun had a bite already!!
 HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY TO YOU ALL - eat lots of cake!!
"Friends Forever" in Gaelic...meanwhile in Maine - whilst the rest of the country is having record high temperatures - here is 32F and snowing :(((((((((
You can purchase my design for Saint Patrick's Day on all manner of items at my Cafe Press shop HERE


I am the wind which breathes upon the sea
I am the wave of the ocean.
I am the murmur of the billows.
I am the ox of the seven combats.
I am the vulture upon the rocks.
I am a beam of the Sun.
I am the fairest of plants.
I am a wild boar in valour.
I am a salmon in the water.
I am a lake in the plain.
I am a word of science.
I am a point of a lance in battle.
I am the God who created in the head the fire.
Who is it who throws light into the meeting in the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the Moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the Sun?

This is the oldest known Irish poem, of Medieval date, and I am dedicating it to my dear departed Mum and Dad who were born in Galway City, and all my rellies far and wide.

I just added the print friendly button (below) to make it so much easier to print out this recipe - you can even delete the images to save paper and ink and enlarge the type size too - happy printing.

This blogpost is part of the Saint Patrick's Day bloghop over at Buttercream Bakehouse
buttercream Bakehouse

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Designing a logo for Farmetta Farm, Morrill, Maine

Here is the finished Farmetta Farm logo which I recently designed at the behest of proprietors Rose Rapp and Wes Soper.

As Rose says of the farm:
"We should have named the farm the happy critter farm. We strive to build this farm from the soil up. Having healthy thick dark soil will feed the animals, keeping them content to be who they are. Sheep being sheep. Chickens scratching up a storm. Ducks marching out on bug patrol. You just can't beat it!"

As I usually do with a logo design project and after ascertaining some important motifs to be included in the logo - specifically a sunflower and 'farmstead' - I created 2 or 3 loose coloured pencil layouts on tracing paper to present to the client for review and help pinpoint a direction in which to hone the design.

 The 3 above helped me realize that Rose and I had very different ideas of what farmstead meant and Rose asked specifically that it should evoke the farmstead - in my mind I was thinking of the farm buildings and homestead so I conjured a farmhouse - Rose was thinking of the fields and pastures and their moto is "From our PASTURES to your PLATE" - so here are some of the second go around sketches.
 As you can see I also played with type/fonts and colours in these last 2, and a half and full sunflower motif. The one above became the chosen design and we tweaked it in colour and layout for the final layout which I painted up in watercolour on paper and then scanned, cleaned and finalized in wonderful Photoshop. 
Next in the order of things we needed to translate the image into black and white for use on Farmetta's labels and order forms as 4 colour printing is expensive for a small operation and a throw away item. 
 Then onto Facebook:
Yes this was before the new timeline pages - little did I know they would be coming so soon - the one on the left didn't translate well into a profile pic so I redesigned the masthead to that on the right in order to show the whole name of the farm in the smaller profile picture that goes with each Facebook post. 
Then a new masthead and profile pic for the new Facebook timeline - where now the cover images are big and dynamic and wonderful - yea!!!! 
The new timeline cover - and profile pic below which actually sits on top of the cover on the live Facebook page. 
My partner, James Strickland, created the website based upon the logo I designed and the colour pallette I established and a wonderful job he did - don't you agree - click on the name to be whisked off there and take a look yourselves - Farmetta Farm 

Farmetta Farm eggs are fantastic and I always use them now in my recipes for this blog, James enjoys their excellent grass fed beef which is part of their CSA programme and I love visiting the donkeys, chickens, sheep etc when Rose and I enjoy a cuppa and a hearty laugh together at the farm. 
An Acadian chicken says "What?"

Donkey Mother and son - Holly and Jack
Bull eating apples - kept my fingers away from those eager teeth!!
Let me know what you think of my logo and be in touch with Farmetta if you want to buy any of their wonderful products.