Thanksgiving Projects

Yes, I’m a little early, but nothing compared to the retailers pushing Christmas in August!!  I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost among the leaves…or rather holidays of Halloween (is that technically a holiday?) and Christmas.  That being said, I’m here to hopefully encourage you to do something a little special this year.  Invite somIMG_1430eone new to your dinner table, try a new recipe or craft or better yet, treat every day like Thanksgiving.  We all have something to be thankful for, even on the grayest of days.

Here’s an idea for a Thanksgiving dessert and a centerpiece all in one.

Take a look at the date on the bottom of the copied magazine page…Country Living October 2006.  Do you think I saved this recipe long enough?  I finally pulled it out last weekend and made the pumpkin-shaped cake.  It turned out pretty good, albeit a tad dry.  We really liked the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but agree IMG_1415it was not quite strong enough.  If I were to make this cake again, I would increase the pumpkin to 1 full cup and the pumpkin pie spice to 3 teaspoons.  I used two smaller (6-cup) bundt pans and they worked fine.  I only had to do a little trimming to get the cakes to stack evenly.  In addition to the drizzle icing, I spread a very thin layer of chocolate icing between the layers and mixed the leftover icing with the cake trimmings and shoved them down in the middle of the cake; I knew the family would want more icing, and I needed something to support my leaves and stem. I took the easy way out and used artificial leaves and stem (chenille stems twisted tightly together).  I just didn’t have time to make marzipan, although I highly recommend it because it looks so much better.  If you try this cake, let me know how you make out.

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Easy Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

1 Devil’s Food cake mix

2 t pumpkin-pie spice (increase to 3 t)

2/3 c pumpkin (I suggest increasing to 1 c)

1/4 c softened unsalted butter

3 whole large eggs

1 cup finely ground pecans

3/4 c water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter and flour or use baking spray to coat two 6-cup bundt pans, 1 large bundt pan or three 6, 8, or 10-inch round cake pans if you want to do some serious carving.  Double the recipe if using the round cake pans.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat using a mixer on medium-high speed until batter is smooth.  Fill the cake pan(s) and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.  Watch closely and test with a toothpick.  Do not over bake.  Cool cake(s) completely on a wire rack before assembling.  Trim the pumpkin cake halves flat on the side that would be the bottom of the bundt pan before stacking together to form the pumpkin.  If you are using round cake pans you will need to carve the cake into a pumpkin shape after stacking the layers.  Decorate as desired.  Viola!  Easy peasy!

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My grandson loves to make name cards for special occasions, so I decided to try to make pilgrims hats.  This turned out easier than I expected and I’m including the instructions for you.  Names and/or artwork on the hats can be provided by the little pilgrims in your life.   All you need is white paper (you can use copy paper), black and yellow construction paper, scissors, glue and Scotch tape.

Lady Pilgrim’s BonnetIMG_1413

Cut a piece of white paper (8-1/2 x 11 inch copy paper in half) to 5-1/2 inches x 8-1/2 inches.  Fold one of the longer edges back 1 inch; this is the front of the bonnet. On the opposite side measure in 2-1/4 inches on each side and then up 1-1/2 inches toward the center of the paper.  Mark the center of the same edge with a pencil dot.  With your scissors, cut up to the 1-1/2 inch marks and then down to the center dot.  This looks like an “M” when it is cut out (see picture).

Bring the 2-1/4 inch sides together and tape front and back to secure; it looks like the Flying Nun’s hat at this point.IMG_1417

Now, pull the center point down to the bottom of the back shaping it to fit as you go.  Secure with tape.  Punch a small hole in each side of the front of the bonnet.  Tie a knot in the end of a 6-inch piece of string or ribbon and pull the unknotted end through the hole.  Repeat on the other side.  Tie a bow with the ribbons to hold the bonnet in place.  All done.IMG_1419

Man’s Hat

From black construction paper cut a 6-inch diameter circle for the brim of hat.  Cut a 4″ x 9″ rectangle of black paper.  Cut a 1-1/2 inch x 8-1/2 inch piece of white paper and a 2-1/2 inch x 3-1/4 inch piece of yellow construction paper.  Look at the picture above for the finished hat to use as an example for the man’s hat.IMG_1414

Glue the strip of white paper 1/2 inch above one long edge of the large black rectangle.  When glue is dry roll the rectangle into a cylinder and tape inside and out to hold in place.  Do not fold or crease this piece.  Poke a hole in the center of the round piece of black paper and then cut pie-shaped wedges, approximately 2-1/2 inches, toward the outside of the circle.  Fold these wedges up into the center of the cylinder and tape.  Cut the center out of the yellow rectangle leaving 1/2 inch borders on all sides and glue on top of the white band at the front of the hat.  I did not cover the top of the hat, but you can if you like.  All done!

 

 

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COMING NOVEMBER 30, 2015

WINDWARD SECRETS

Visit me at http://www.KathleenAndrewsDavis.com

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Tea for Two…or more

     IMG_1139At the top of my list of favorite things is having tea with friends either at home or at a tearoom.

No matter season, time or place, there’s nothing like a warm cup of tea and a good friend to feed your soul.

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I first fell in love with having tea in storybooks and then was bitten by the bug over 25 years ago when I was a volunteer tour guide at Baker Mansion in Altoona, PA, and fund raising chair for the Blair County Historical Society.  Although I planned and enjoyed many different events, a series of summer tea parties was my favorite.  With no kitchen facilities we had to transport everything we needed, including fine china and silverware, to the mansion and then lug all the dirty dishes home.   It was an ordeal but well worth it.

Our adult teas included full tea service and an entertaining program.  My favorite of the season was a children’s tea served on the front lawn of the mansion with covered chairs and pastel tablecloths.  The menu was especially fun including cookie cutter sandwiches, gummy fish swimming in Jello, and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.  The tables were decorated with antique soda fountain glasses with floral arrangements provided by the Blair County Garden Club.  Guests were serenaded by 13-year-old, harpest Rachel Eardley.  At 13 she already played like an expert.  I remember looking down the long, half acre lawn to see a daddy holding his little girl’s hand as they approached.  I nearly broke my leg running down the hill to meet him because I was thrilled to see a daddy escorting his little girl to tea.  He was the only dad there that day.  We concluded the event with a magician and sent everyone home with full tummies and smiles on their sweet faces.Bell wedding dress

Built in 1844 by iron master Elias Baker the mansion is open for tours and special events.  Reputed to be haunted, the mansion boasts the wedding dress of Anna Bell, of Bellwood, PA, that supposedly moves while enclosed in an airtight case.  I spent many an hour sitting in that room, but the dress never honored me with even a slight tap of a wedding slipper.

I make it a habit to visit every tearoom I can find, among my favorites is Tilly Mint’s in Souderton, PA (northwest of Philadelphia, Buck’s County) which is as English as you can get.  Although modest in terms of decor, Tilly Mint’s stands out with exceptional service and the most varied and delectable treats I have personally experienced.

Owner, Trish, British expat is happy to share stories of her homeland and tea with her mother who gave her the nickname of Tilly Mint.  Patrons and owner alike correspond with family and friends in England.  Trish proudly displays pictures of the newest Royals, George and Charlotte, that were sent to her personally by Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
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An especially unique experience was having tea at Meadowbrook Farm, the estate of the late J. Liddon Pennock, Jr, (1913-2003) a renowned Philadlphia florist and landscape designer.  Mr. Pennock is best known for providing the florals for the Trisha Nixon wedding at the White House.  The estate is now maintained by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society who welcome visitors for tours of the house and grounds.  The big surprise for us was a retail nursery on site.  The house is English Cotswold dMeadowbrook-image-garden-loweresign with the original furnishings still in place.

Our tea was served in a beautiful garden room by Chef Brenda Board, whOliver-and-Company-Tea-Room-3-640x426o at that time was catering teas in historical buildings in and around Philly.  We were not only impressed by our surroundings (after finally getting there because we got lost) but by the wealth of knowledge Chef Board had to share.  Did you know there is such a thing as a tea sommelier?  After completing culinary school, Chef Board returned to school to study tea.  She made me dizzy with what I didn’t know about tea.  Brenda presented an exceptional gourmet tea of a unique combination of sandwiches and desserts.  When in the Philly area, try to spend an afternoon enjoying this beautiful estate.

twinings3     If you are a Jersey Shore fan you must visit the Twinings Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom on the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May.  You can dine outdoors on the tented patio or in the original horse stalls.  I know, that sounds unsanitary but there is no evidence horses ever lived there.  The carriage house is full of character and so unique it looks like an architect’s idea of the perfect carriage house with glossy wood and iron fittings rather than the over 100 year old building that it is.  A member of the Twining family personally visited from England and guided the opening of the tearoom nearly 20 years ago and it continues in popularity with wonderful teas and culinary treats.twinings 4

You’ll have trouble leaving the carriage house withtwiningsout making a purchase in the gift shop…but it’s Cape May and we all need a little token of our visit.

Cape May has boasted the top five restaurants in New Jersey for years and now they can claim the Carriage House Tearoom as one more jewel in their crown. This beautiful little town is the perfect destination to celebrate special occasions.  Stay in one of the many B&B’s, take a horse and carriage tour through the town, and be sure to stop for tea at the Carriage House.  Don’t forget to tour the Emlen Physick house while you’re there, I promise it’s worth your time.

 

 

I consider myseltea merchantf very lucky to have several fine tearooms within driving distance. Tea Merchant 101 located in Duncansville, PA, is a more contemporary tea room with literally over 100 teas to chose from.  Owner, Joe Doyle, offers a light tea on the premises or you can purchase any of his teas to savor at home.  Joe also offers tea accessories and gift baskets.

 

         If you are a lover of all things Victorian, then Bell Mansion Tearbellmansion3oom, in Bellwood, PA, is the tearoom for you.  Owned and operated by Pamela and George Wertman this is definitely the place for tea for two or special events such as showers and birthday parties.

     George’s chicken salad is the best!!!  Their tea selection is vast and worth trying a different tea each time you visit.IMG_20140329_143246

     The Wertmans were kind enough to host a launch party for my first book, Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.  We had a wonderful time with the mothers and daughters who attended.  Pamela encourages her guests to wear one of her fancy hats and chose their own teapots.  In addition to hostess extraordinaire, Pamela is a talented pianist and surprised me by playing the theme from Somewhere In Time at the event.  Her music was so incredible I had trouble holding back the tears.IMG_20140329_145507

     The Wertmans now offer Bed and Breakfast accommodations on the second floor of the mansion. Keep this in mind when you have too many guests and not enough bedrooms.bellmansion2

     If you don’t have a local tea room where you can buy interesting teas, then I suggest looking for Twinings and Stash brands.  If you cannot find them in your local store, go online.  I love all the different flavors, but am an Earl Gray lover at heart.  Time and time again I chose Lady Gray or Earl Blue.

     There are several things I am an obnoxious snob about, one of them is scones.  Many times I have been told that scones can only be made one way…of course that being the favorite of the speaker.  Well, I’m here to tell you after a month in England and several weeks in Ireland, there is absolutely NOT only one way to make scones.  Every town I visited had a different type of scone.  They run the gamut of rolled and cut, dropped, or in a round cut in wedges, sweet and savory in every flavor you can dream up.  The most surprising thing to me was the best scone I had was on the Virgin Atlantic plane on the way home…go figure, probably commercially made and frozen.  Who cares, it was delicious.

     Many Americans say they don’t like scones.  Yes, they can tend to be a bit dry sometimes and not very flavorful.  I personally think the problem is we Americans don’t do it right.  Scones are meant to be pared with clotted cream, butter, lemon curd and/or preserves.  The terms clotted and curd seem to scare Americans…okay, call it Devonshire cream and lemon pudding. Don’t let a term ruin a new experience.

    After literally years and dozens of recipes I finally found the scone recipe I like best and even my husband (one of those scone haters) likes.  I share it with you below, but I encourage you to test as many recipes as you can until you find your favorite.

My Favorite Scones

2-1/3 c all-purpose flour

3 T brown sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 c butter

3/4 c dried fruit of your choice

2-3 T grated orange peel.

8 oz sour cream

1 egg yolk, beaten (save the white for brushing tops)

1 T water

1 T coarse sugar

     Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender (I use a food processor because it’s much faster) cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add dried fruit and orange zest and toss until mixed. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

     In a small bowl combine sour cream and egg yolk, add all at once to the well in the flour mixture.  Using a fork, stir just until moistened.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Quickly knead by gently folding and pressing dough until smooth. Divide dough into two equal parts and shape into 8-inch rounds approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Cut each round into six wedges.  Place wedges one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush tops with a mixture of egg white and 1 T water.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

     Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from baking sheet and cool or serve warm.

Mommies and grandmothers, take your favorite little girls to tea or have a tea party at home.

You’ll be starting a new tradition you will all enjoy.

Last but not least…here’s a special little craft project for tea lovers.

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Kids in the Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but I change my recipes for the seasons like I change the clothes in my closet.  Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to think about easy, fun recipes.
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Thinking about this reminded me of the time our daughters, then in junior high school, made Peanut Butter Tandy Cake.  Call it what you will Tastycakes, Tandy Kake or Kandy Kake…my recipe calls it Peanut Butter Tandy Cake.   Yes, they are just like the ones you buy at the store.  I didn’t know there was a controversy over the name, to me, they always were and always will be Tandy Cakes (see the tweet below explaining the name change).

 

At any rate, when I got home…from wherever…the girls were upset because they had done something wrong and the end product was not like it was when I made the recipe.  It only took one look at the baking sheet to realize they had forgotten to add the baking powder.  However, in my opinion, they made it better.  Their Tandy Cake was EXACTLY like the original except cut into squares instead of the traditional round shape.  Without the baking powder the cake layer stayed low like the Tandy Cakes we all know and love.

tandy kakeThis picture shows the recipe with the baking powder.

Without the baking powder they are about half this high.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease or use baking spray to coat the bottom of a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan (pan must have sides).

Cake Ingredients

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1/2 c oil

1 c milk

4 slightly beaten eggs

2 t melted butter

2 t baking powder

1 t vanilla

Mix ingredients together and pour on the well-greased 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.

Peanut Butter Topping

While cake is baking, mix together:

3/4 c smooth peanut butter

1/2 stick melted butter

3/4 to 1 c powdered sugar

When cake tests done, remove from oven and immediately spread peanut butter topping

over the entire top of the cake while it is still hot.

Place in refrigerator or freezer until the peanut butter has hardened.

Chocolate Icing

When cake is cold, melt two 8-ounce Hershey bars in a double boiler on top of the stove.

Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer and return cake to the refrigerator until chocolate is set.

Before serving bring the cake to room temperature and cut into 2-inch square.

Enjoy, with or without the baking powder!

Is It a Tandy Kake or a Kandy Kake?

By

That’s Tandy Kake to you, sir

We knew there was a reason we were following Tastykake’s Twitter feed! Today they’ve revealed the answer to a mystery that’s been nagging us for YEARS. Why did they change the name of our beloved chocolate-covered peanut butter mini-cakes from Tandy Kakes to Kandy Kakes? Honestly, we’ve had arguments with people about this very subject, people who refused to believe they were ever called Tandy Kakes. People who made us question the validity of our own childhood lunchbox memories! Today, Tasty Baking Company solved the mystery in 140 characters (or less).

Via Twitter:

“Tandy Kakes were changed to “Kandy Kakes” to avoid confusion with the Tandy Candy Co. during the 1970s.”

Thank you, Tastyake, for making us feel whole again! We don’t know who this Tandy Candy Company is (or was, since we can’t find them via a google search), but we are going back to calling them Tandy Kakes, just because we can.

If anyone else has any burning Krimpet or Koffee Kake questions, they will be answering them via Twitter: @TastyBakingCo.

 

 

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Don’t forget your summer reading list!

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Kids in the kitchen

Beautiful miniature kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of every home where family and friends prefer to gather.  This special room is where families prepare and eat meals, do homework, play games, and create projects for school and leisure.   It’s the common ground for everything that happens in the home.  Most importantly, it’s where families share time.  It’s also the perfect place to teach teamwork and responsibility.  The story of The Little Red Hen is a perfect example for teaching the children to share the work in order to share the benefit.   Even the youngest children can help set the table, clear the table, and dry dishes. While you’re at it…teach them to cook.  More and more I see young people interested in cooking and baking.

I would like to share a simple recipe with you and your children.  Call it a starter recipe because it’s so easy.  I failed fudge 101 and even managed to mess up the “Foolproof Fudge” recipe, don’t know how, but I did.  After many years of not making fudge I was introduced to Peanut Butter Meltaway Fudge, which I can actually make perfectly every time.  Give it a try and see what you think.

 

Peanut Butter Meltaway Fudge

One 14 ounce bag of white chocolate candy melts

One 14 ounce bag of milk chocolate candy melts

One 12 ounce jar of creamy peanut butter

Spray an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch pan or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Place candy melts and the peanut butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl.  Place bowl in the microwave on high for 60 seconds. Remove, stir, and return to microwave for another 60 seconds.  Remove and stir again.  If lumps remain, return to the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until all the lumps are gone and mixture is creamy smooth.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate.  When fudge has hardened, remove and place on the counter until it comes to room temperature (this makes it easier to cut).  Cut into squares and serve.  This fudge keeps very well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Enjoy.

 Plaisier de Veniseminiature kitchen by Cinderella Moments

Do you like the pictures of kitchens?

They’re all dollhouse kitchens!

Books are best friends forever!Books! Artist: unknown

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Emerson’s Attic available at Amazon.com

http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com