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Archive for the ‘cake recipes’ Category

“Earth is crammed with heaven.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Please help yourself to Emily’s rice cakes and a cup of green tea.

Hello Spring, is that really you? :)

Today we’re greeting the somewhat reluctant, much-awaited season of renewal, rebirth, and regrowth with a little help from esteemed poet Emily Dickinson.

I’m sure you know she was fond of sending friends and acquaintances fragrant bouquets with notes or verses tucked in them, sometimes with a gift of food.

What could be sweeter than homemade gingerbread or coconut cake, nasturtiums and peonies from her garden, and a heartfelt verse she’d penned just for you?

From the New York Botanical Gardens Emily Dickinson Exhibit (2010)

Though she may have eschewed personal contact with people outside the family, Emily was able to sustain longstanding friendships and express romantic inclinations on her own terms. She cultivated and excelled in all three of these pursuits — gardening, baking, writing — as a normal course of each day, all of them requiring practiced skill, time and devotion.

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“I have to be seen to be believed.” ~ Queen Elizabeth II

Roll out the red carpet and practice your curtsies. Polish your tiara if you like.

A very special guest is joining us for tea today!

Mr. Cornelius has been a fan of Her Majesty the Queen for a long time. He likes that she loves animals and chocolate, lives in several beautiful royal residences, always wears the best hats, and has reigned for an amazing 60 years!

A tea party lover from the start: Princess Elizabeth with her parents Queen Elizabeth and King George VI.

Needless to say, he was beside himself when she accepted our invitation. We spiffed up the dining room, stocked up on Earl Grey and Darjeeling (reputedly her favorite), and made finger sandwiches and cake.

She’s so photogenic!

We were a little nervous but she immediately put us at ease. Imagine our great surprise when she brought Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry with her! They were such a jolly group and didn’t seem to mind dipping in hot water. :)

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Good Morning!

You’re just in time to join us for some freshly baked rock cakes and a bracing cup of Downton Abbey® Grantham Breakfast Blend. Would you like yours with a splash of honey and almond milk?

Better to stay indoors and chat about Downton than brave the winter of our discontent, which just keeps “gifting us” with more snow, ice, bitter winds, traffic snarls, school closings and slushy messes. We are definitely NOT amused.

Tea and Downton, Downton and tea, what would we do without you?

So, what do you think of Season 4 now that we’re about half way through?

I know some Downton fans have jumped ship — angry and disappointed with Julian Fellowes for the shocking storyline about Anna. Words like “exploitative,” “gratuitous,” “implausible,” and “manipulative” have been bandied about.

For those who have viewed Downton as a means of gentle escapism, this was simply the last straw, some saying the attack on Anna was an assault on the series itself, definitely marking a turning point for better or worse. A devastating turn of events to be sure, with Joanne Froggatt turning in a brilliant performance. It’s interesting how this plotline is unfolding — Bates must temper his smoldering rage with genuine care and concern for Anna. What repercussions? Will justice be served?

© Carnival/ITV

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I’ve long been a big fan of illustrated cookbooks, often adding them to my collection without ever intending to make any of the recipes. I’m content to ooh and ahh over the beautiful art, happily satisfying my visual cravings.

But since we’re all about tea and England this winter, I thought it would be nice to try something from Tea and Cake: Recipes for the Perfect Afternoon Tea (Hardie Grant, 2011), which features the lovely watercolor and paper collage work of London-based illustrator Emma Block.

Emma was actually commissioned by the publisher to do the illustrations while in her last year at university; the recipes themselves were created by a team of recipe writers whose names, oddly enough, do not appear on the cover of the book. But Emma’s name is there, front and center, and she definitely deserves the spotlight, because it is her work that really makes this book shine.

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“One of my biggest thrills for me still is sitting down with a guitar or a piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen.” ~ Paul McCartney

Ribbet collage paulSir James Paul McCartney (my other secret husband) is 71 years old today!

He’s still one of the most well preserved classic rockers out there. Can’t get enough of his boyish good looks and irresistible charm. Plus, he makes good mashed potatoes. :)

Despite having been a member of the greatest rock band ever, and now described by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most successful composer and recording artist of all time,” (wow) he seems remarkably down to earth. Paul just keeps on doing what he loves and we love him all the more for it.

Did you see him on Stephen Colbert last week? A little cheeky and always quick on the draw.

* * *

Macca is the wealthiest musician in the UK (and probably the world); as of this year, his net worth is estimated in excess of £680 million. Not bad for a lad from Liverpool with a modest working class background. In this interesting BBC Radio 4 interview with Sheila Dillon, he talks about being raised on traditional meat and potatoes meals. His mother served Yorkshire Pudding as a dessert (with Golden Syrup), and the Sunday roast was the highlight of the week.

He enjoyed the usual chops and liver but drew the line at tongue, a cheap alternative to meat in those days of rationing. Can’t blame him in the least. As he says, “It’s a tongue!” Ewwww.

Ribbet collage lpaul 2

While touring with the Beatles, food was basically fuel. He remembers huge steaks drooping over the edge of the plate and thinking how Americans always like to do things “big.”

Though he was introduced to vegetarianism in the 60′s while studying meditation in India, it wasn’t until he met Linda that he adopted it as a lifestyle, initially because of his compassion for animals. Over the years, his commitment to a meat-free diet intensified as he learned more about its health benefits and the detrimental effects of livestock production on the environment. These days he passionately campaigns for animal rights, using his fame to help spread the word about how greenhouse gas emissions impact climate change.

paul's kitchen

The McCartney kitchen at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, is now maintained by the National Trust.

I like looking at the humble kitchen at 20 Forthlin Road, imagining 15-year-old Paul eating beans on toast or sausages for tea and writing songs with the Quarrymen, never dreaming where his life’s journey would take him.

Other things I love about Paul:

  • Sometimes, just for fun, he uses the pseudonym “Apollo C. Vermouth”
  • He wrote “Yesterday,” the most covered song in history (3000+ recorded versions)
  • He had a rare and genuine-for-real, 29-year enduring marriage to Linda, the love of his life
  • He’s a firm believer in family life and never spoiled his children, wanting them above all to be people with good hearts
  • He’s also a painter and a poet
  • He can’t read music and is largely self-taught, a natural-born instinctual artist
  • He’s considered one of the most generous musicians in the world, having contributed millions of pounds to various charities
  • He wrote beautifully lyrical love songs inspired by his real-life muses: “And I Love Her,” “You Won’t See Me,” “I’m Looking Through You, “Here, There and Everywhere,” “For No One” (Jane Asher), “Two of Us,” “I Will,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “My Love” (Linda McCartney)
  • “Blackbird” is his favorite song, and it’s mine too :)

Lookin’ good in Melbourne, Australia, 1975:

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To celebrate his birthday, I made the Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe included in The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books, 2012), which Paul launched with his daughters Stella and Mary. It was nice to get a quick chocolate fix made with ingredients I already had on hand. It turned out to be more like a cakey brownie with a moist fudgy layer on the bottom. Yum!

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EASY CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE 
(adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons melted butter
2 organic eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons organic milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 1-quart baking dish.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup sugar. Make a well in the center, pour in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and organic milk, and beat until well combined.

Stir in the chopped pecans, and pour into the prepared pan. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and hot water. Stir well and pour over the cake batter.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. During baking, the cake will rise to the top and underneath there will be a delicious chocolate sauce. Serve hot with cream.

Serves 4.

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Here’s Paul to sing us out with “Birthday” from The Colbert Report. The song was written mostly by Paul in the Apple Studios 6 days before Linda’s 26th birthday.

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mccartneys

Paul with daughters Mary and Stella

♥ HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MACCA! ♥

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Copyright ©2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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