Bundt cake and Thrift Store Finds

Today is Samhain, the day the summer comes to its end and the winter dark takes over.  We went to the local thrift shop and found some lovely items that had been carefully weeded from another home…..

I found a lovely hand made pottery jar.  I love knowing that hands have touched clay to make this work of art and that someone’s thoughts sorted out how to apply the glazes.12208805_554950017996691_5843906502996138087_n

I also found a wonderful, warm pair of Haflinger slippers.  They look almost new and are the perfect size.  My toes are so toasty and happy.


My most beautiful find is a Simplex Copper Tea Kettle.  It is made in England and has a wonderful whistle when it’s hot.  I still love my electric kettle, but this is just so beautiful that I made convert back to stovetop.


Last Sunday I found a stoneware bundt pan.  So I decided to try it out this weekend with a chocolate cake to celebrate Samhain.  The recipe looks great.  here’s hoping it won’t stick too badly.

Chocolate Cream Bundt Cakeimage

For the cake:

  • 1 c butter
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 c water
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 c castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 t soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the glaze:

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T corn syrup
  • 1/2 c cream
  • 1 1/2 T castor sugar
  1. Prehat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and place in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together the flour, sugar, and soda. Add about half of the butter mixture and blend. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until well combined. Blend in  the eggs, one at a time, and then the sour cream and vanilla.
  5. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until done.
  6. Cover the cake with a baking tray and let the it cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
  7. While the cake is cooling, add the chopped chocolate and corn syrup to a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  8. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
Posted in 2015, Baking, November 2015, Recipes | Leave a comment

Red Cross Recommends

I’ve been listening to OPB’s series about disaster preparation and it’s got me thinking that we could be doing more. So I’ve copies their list below and am going to start getting things together in case we ever need them:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery or Hand-cranked radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First adi kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blankets
  • Map(s) of the area
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Thanks Friend

A dear friend of mine gave me the most beautiful gift in response to my inquiry about the recipe for his salad dressing.  The bag contained not only all of the ingredients for the dressing, but the makings of a lovely salad.  Thanks TS….

Miso Salad Dressing

6 T miso
1/2 c rice vinegar
5 T honey
4 T ginger
5 T sesame oil
6 t lime juice
4 t white sesame seeds


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End of September

It was a busy weekend about the backyard farm.  Saturday we picked up milk at the farm and did a bit of shopping.  While we were out, our oldest son noticed that Frodo, the little goat, wasn’t looking as spry as usual.  We cam home, called a bunch of vets (most of whom are closed on Saturday) got some advice from a lovely goat rental owner, cleaned out the goat pen, and sat around for an hour waiting to see if Frodo could poo.  After a long wait, I got really bored and decided to give Frodo a bit of a belly jiggle and low-and-behold, out came poo.  He seemed okay so we headed in for supper.  Then we settled in for a evening in front of the first really nice fire of the fall.

white goat

Sunday was even busier.  We started out taking a few garage leftover to Aunt J and Uncle D’s house.  We’ve been there a hundred times and somehow managed to get lost and were late – silly.  Then we stopped  by our instrument repair guy with the new French Horn to get it chem-cleaned.  This was followed by stops at several thrift shops and a lovely lunch of fish and chips. jug

In the afternoon, I picked a bucket of apples and brought them inside to process.  First I peeled and sliced them for the dehydrator.


Then I took the scraps to the garage to try out my new fruit press.  We didn’t get a lot of juice, but not bad for just a pile of scraps that would have gone to the chickens.  They still got the scraps, they were just a little dryer.cider

The last chore of the day was to culture some raw cream with 1/8t of Crème fraîche starter. I’m going to leave it overnight not the counter and then make cultured butter from it tomorrow.culture

Posted in 2015, Sept 2015 | Leave a comment

Fall Harvest Weekend – Sept

This weekend I started putting up the fall harvest to get ready for winter.

Grape Juice: Saturday was the day to start harvesting the grapes before the next rain storm.  I was able to bottle two batches of white grape juice from the grapes with seeds and put a couple of trays of seedless grapes into the dehydrator for raisins.  Sunday morning is here and there is another batch of grapes in the steam juicer – this time, purple ones.


Zucchini Bread: The zucchini is still coming on and, with us back at school, they are going unchecked and getting too big.  I made a batch of zucchini bread.  Two for the freezer and two for the boys.


Pesto: On Friday night, a good friend came over to show me how to make sweet basil pesto.  It was so easy that on Saturday I made a batch with my Thai basil, and another batch with sorrel and almonds.  On Sunday morning I made another small batch with Parsley. It’s popped into the freezer for winter pasta and soups.IMG_0918

Herbs: More of the herbs from the garden also need to be harvested and dried for winter. Some of the sage may also end up in one more pesto.

Posted in 2015, Sept 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day ?? (only 8 days left)

Today was a busy day as we’re wrapping up our summer vacation and getting ready to go back to school.  A started out the day at the Gladstone Goodwill shop where I picked up a lovely set of casseroles and a baking dish.  The are handmade and decorated with blue slip.  I’d been waiting for them for weeks, trying to see if they would hold out until they were half price. Today was the day. I think they are just lovely.



My second stop was at the Oregon City Goodwill store.  I really couldn’t find much and was just about to leave when I spotted a big brown canister.  I went to look at it and it seemed to actually be a crock for but it was a little stuck between shelves so I had to figure out how to un-wedge it.  I opened the lid and figured out it was a 10 liter fermenting crock.  I’m really looking forward to trying to make some pickles or sauerkraut.




The third stop was Safeway where I picked up some shrimp (for etouffee) and some bangers (for supper later in the week) on clearance.

The last stop was Albertson’s.  They had a lot of meat on clearance.  I was able to pick up 13 chicken quarters, 8 pounds of ground turkey and pork, some shredded cheese, and bread for under$15.00.  The drumsticks are in the freezer, the thighs got boned and frozen, the bones made stock for the étouffée.  The ground meat made 8 batches of meatballs; tandoori turkey, thanksgiving turkey, sumac turkey and barbecue pork.  They are also all tucked away into the freezer.


Aside from the cooking, I was able to get all of the linen ironed and folded.  Now my feet are killing me and I’m going to take a little rest.

Posted in 2015, August 2015 | Leave a comment

Fig Jelly (yes, jelly – not jam)

I had a heck of a time trying to find a recipe – any recipe – for fig jelly.  Fig preserves,yes; fig conserve, yes; fig jelly that’s actually jam, yes; clear fig jelly, no.  So I made it up.

fig jelly

    • Steam juice 1 load of figs for 2 hours.  I collected about 10 cups of juice, which I boiled to reduce it down to about 5 cups.
    • To the reduced fig juice, add the juice of 5 small lemons and 8 T low-sugar pectin.  Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down.
    • Add 4. 5 cups of castor sugar and bring back to the boil for 1 minute.
    • Remove from the heat and ladle into sterilized half-pint jars.  Cap and process (I used a steam canner) for 15 minutes.

fig stuffs

Posted in 2015, August 2015, Putting up | Leave a comment

Emergency Ready? – Staying Warm

If the power goes out, so does the furnace at our place.  We do have propane, but without electricity, the fans don’t work.  The water heaters are lovely, they run on propane and after a cold day, a warm bath is wonderful.IMG_0813

We also have a fireplace and, while we can’t afford to upgrade to a wood stove insert right now, we are hoping to someday.  For now, we spent July putting in 5 cords of firewood – oak, fir and pine mostly.  This should keep us in fires for a normal winter.  We are still looking out for some wood, but only if we can get it for free.IMG_0792

I was also able to pick up a lovely goose down comforter at a tag sale for $8.00.  I soaked it an really hot water with a teaspoon of Dawn and 1/4 of Oxi-clean.  It took a couple of soaks until the water stayed clean, then I threw it into the washer for a hot water wash.  I did double spins with felted dryer balls (I added a couple of drops of lavender oil).  The it went out onto the clothes line in the sun for a couple of hours before getting rolled up, stuffed into a pillowcase and stored in a cedar chest for fall.  This brings us up to 7 down comforters in total which should keep us toasty warm the winter.

Posted in 2015, Emergency Supplies, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 34

It’s been another busy couple of weeks here at the backyard farm. Summer has been fun, full of house organizing, garden sprucing, good recipes, thrift stores, tag sales and projects galore.  It feels like it’s coming to and end, but we still have some time left.  So here’s to more summer fun to come.


We found some lovely fleece at a barn sale; sheep, llama, alpaca and pygora goat wool.



This is my first try at washing wool – a little Dawn, some hot water and very little swishing.  This is some of the llama wool.  I probably need a better way to dry it.


I went to a spinning group and a lovely group of ladies helped me start to learn to spin some yarn.  I found out that my wheel was out of alignment, part of my wheel are loose, my roving is a bit sticky with lanolin and that this is going to take a lot of practice.  I spent another day fixing up the wheel – hopefully it better now.


I did start sewing my sampler squares together into a large afghan. It’s taken a long time and several experiments to figure out how to join everything together, but I think I like the squares sewn together with yarn, it’s a nice, flat look.

IMG_0796I’ve also started melting down some of the candles that I purchased at the thrift shop and making some new candles.  The one problem that I’ve run into is with the cone mold on the right.  It keeps cutting off the wick on the top.

IMG_0795Only one more strand to go for my first basket.  I think it will turn out pretty well.  I learned a lot, but I really quite like it.


Posted in 2015, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 22


  • 4 lb fresh pork belly
  • 3½ tablespoons – Morton Tender Cure
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed


  1. Trim, rinse and pat the pork belly dry.
  2. Combine salt, sugar, and peppercorns and mix well.
  3. Place the pork belly into a zip lock bag and thoroughly rub with curing mix.
  4. Place the cure rubbed pork belly in the fridge for 7 days then rinse thoroughly with water.

    bacon day 0

    Bacon – Day 0


  1. Smoke at around 200 degrees for 3½-4 hours adding soaked wood chips every 45 minutes or so; until the internal temperature of the pork belly registers 150 degrees.
  2. Allow the bacon to cool completely then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before slicing.
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