29 August, 2008

Whip it Up Challenge: Week 8*

*AKA: The End.

When I was pregnant with the Little Goat, I craved all things Lemon. It really didn't matter what form it took - main ingredient or seasoning - I wanted LEMON! Well the pregnancy is obviously long over but my love for lemons has only increased. Seriously; the only thing better than lemony things (and it's not better by much) is chocolate. So it seemed only natural when I saw this recipe that I NEEDED to eat it. It also seems like a fitting culmination of my participation in the Whip it Up Challenge. So, for my Week 8 (and final) submission, I present
Lemon Pudding Souffle.

I felt a little rushed in my
preparation of this dessert and had homemade soup and cheesy biscuits on the go for dinner at the same time which meant I was suffering from a severe shortage of counter space. We have limited counter space in our kitchen to begin with and usually, when I'm trying a new recipe (or really, cooking anything) I like to start in a clean kitchen. (Mr. J.'s Mom can attest to my compulsive dish-washing while cake & filling-making at their house a couple weeks ago.)

I also felt a little like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina and the look of fear on her face when she was preparing her souffle in culinary school, but it turns out I had nothing to fear. The recipe was relatively easy although probably because I felt rushed I also felt it was a little picky. I could just as easily make a lemon pudding cake I suppose, but I've made those before so this was something new.

Here's the Q&A:
Was the recipe easy to follow?
Relatively. I'm glad I read it through a couple times before I started, but I still goofed it up. I use
d four egg whites instead of the three the recipe said to use but in the end I don't think it really made a difference.

...Did it taste good? It was surprisingly good. I used all the rind from both lemons (1/4 cup of lemon juice is roughly two good-sized lemons, just in case you need to know). I was hoping to further enhance the lemon flavour and I think it was a success.

Would we make it again? Mr. J. said he'd eat it again and I think I could be convinced to make it again if we had more time. We ate it warm although it says you can serve it chilled. We don't own a 'proper' souffle dish so we just used a regular baking dish and we think it turned out fine. It didn't fall nearly as much as we thought it would either and the texture of the 'cake' was quite light. We only had two complaints. The first being that the sauce didn't really thicken up as much as we would've liked and the second being that I wish the sauce wasn't so.....creamy. Back in Canada (and I'm sure you could find it in America if you looked hard enough) we have this lemon pudding/pie filling mix called Shirriff, which now goes under the name Dr. Oetker.** It's amazing and non-dairy. It looks more clear and is just really zingy. It seems to me that milk sort of mellows the lemon taste a bit. So, if we did make it again, maybe we'd try it with water or half water/half milk and see what happens. Definitely an elegant-looking dessert for a dinner party if you're so inclined. It would look really nice in individual souffle dishes with icing sugar sprinkled on top. Mmmmm.... Oh yes, here's the picture of the souffle straight out of the oven. Please pardon the poor lighting.

**Woot! Woot! I just checked and the Dr. Oetker website says it's "now available in the USA!" I should add that this is the ONLY filling I EVER use for making lemon meringue pie and I've had several people tell me it's the best lemon pie they've ever had (hah! Little do they know it's a MIX!). So if you can find it, try it! Okay? Okay!

26 August, 2008

The Trip Pics

For a limited time only:

See cake pictures here.

See fancy pictures here.

See regular trip pictures here.

And then forget all the names you just read, okay? Thanks. :)

The End of Summer

It's only the 26th of August, but we decided last night that it's official: Summer. Is. Over. Our major summer excursion now being past, we wait with bated breath for a lawn strewn with crispy leaves and a golden harvest moon. We did however, thoroughly enjoy our vacation, spending a lot (but never quite enough, it seems) time with old friends and family we hadn't seen in almost two years.

The trip out to Washington started far too slowly. We drove down to Airport City the night before our flight left which proved to be a stroke of genius because it left us lots of time to do a little shopping, pick up a few things I still needed for cake decorating, and plenty of time in the morning to get to the airport. Except when we got to the airport, early of course like good little passengers, we realized we hadn't though about lunch and then had to spend money on airport food to tide us over until we boarded. Then we boarded and were just settled in our seats when the pilot came over the intercom to tell us that there was bad weather and too many planes in the air over Newark (NJ) so our departure time was being pushed back. After all was said and done, it ended up being pushed back by FOUR hours AND we had to spend money on airport food a second time (although it was tasty, but still!). If that doesn't make for a flight full of cranky passengers, I don't know what does. A lot of people missed (some by just minutes) connecting flights, including us. When we got off the plane, we talked to the first ticketing agent we saw who got us stand-by boarding passes for the next flight to Seattle, stand-by bp's for a flight early the next morning and guaranteed tickets for the same flight the next night. I don't know how many of you have been to the airport in Newark but we arrived in one terminal and had to take a bus over to another terminal for our departure and I always hate that sort of setup because when minutes count, waiting for a bus is a little nerve-wracking. We finally got to the other terminal and they were just calling for stand-by passengers. We got in line and the cranky lady took our passes and focused intently on her computer screen before handing us back a bunch of papers. We weren't sure what was going on until she basically yelled at us and wanted to know why we were still standing there. We were confused but figured out we had gotten on the flight. Joy ensued until we realized that for a six-hour flight with a one-year-old, they had seated us half a plane apart. Ack! Thankfully, the other guy at the counter took pity on us and rearranged things. A flight attendant further rearranged things so we ended up with a row of seats to ourselves. That was awesome because the Little Goat ended up sleeping on the seat between us for most of the ride; she did great! It probably helped that it was already nighttime and her regular bedtime anyway.

Our flight back was not quite as peachy because we didn't have that extra seat and the LG was rather cranky. Then we boarded our connecting flight in NJ and the pilot told us we were 25th in line for take-off so we ended up taking off an hour late. If the flight had been on-time, the LG probably would've been fine. As it was, she was NOT happy and wailed for a good part of the hour and ten minutes. We did learn something with all this flying though: next time, we will either book a day of travel with multiple flights or take a longer flight but book the LG her own seat. I know it costs more, but it just made the trip so much more bearable to have that extra seat.

Anyway, the Saturday morning after we got there, my cousin Tryva and another cousin M came down to Seattle and we met at the Market for lunch. We went to my favourite little place at the market, "Peroshky, Peroshky" and I had a very tasty mushroom-onion peroshky and Mr. J. and I shared a rhubarb peroshky too. Oh......YUM! We had a very short but very fun visit and discovered a coffee shop we hadn't been too before (that was NOT Starbucks - hooray!) where the perfect latte includes latte art in a to-go cup. That is dedication, people. The rest of Saturday was a quick trip to see Mr. J.'s Nana and then back over to the East Side.

Thankfully, the weather on Sunday for our first day back in B, was completely tolerable and not nearly as hot as we were expecting (don't worry, that all changed very quickly). Church on Sunday was good and it was so great to see everybody again. Plus it just so happened that our friend Forrest cut the sermon a little short so people would have a chance to visit with us.

The rest of that week primarily involved doing all things wedding and cake-related, but squeezing in as many visits as possible. Monday, Michelle helped me make all the fillings and icing for her cake. Monday evening was her bridal shower which turned out quite nicely, I think. Tuesday I went over to my very dear friend Christine's first thing. We had lunch and talked and watched our kids and it was just like old times. That night, the couple we were staying with (Forrest & Carole who are like parents to me) hosted a dessert night for all our church friends. We didn't get to visit with everybody nearly long enough, but it was relaxing and fun and just.....good.

Wednesday was cake-baking day. It took all of the morning and most of the afternoon, but I only had one flop and we had a proper cake-tasting with lunch.

The Groom finally arrived on Thursday so we took a trip up to the wedding site so Jim could see where he was going to get married in two days. M&J picked out a spot for the ceremony, Mr. J. and I scoped out locations for pictures, the Mother-of-the-Bride talked details with the site owners, and the LG was hot because yes, by that time, it was hot. Almost 100F hot.

Friday was cake decorating day and let me just say: it took about as long as I thought it would but I forgot how stinking boring it gets after a while. I just wanted it to be over! Thankfully, Grandma Carole watched the LG the whole time so I had minimal interruptions. Hooray! We also had the 'rehearsal' dinner on Friday night although there really was no rehearsal, just dinner. The big deal at dinner was GIGANTIC crab legs that Mark, the Best Man had arranged and that I think had just flown in from Alaska the night before (and the word on the street is that Mark has totally met Sig from Deadliest Catch! So cool!). I hate crustaceans so the legs stayed far away from me, but I hear it was fabulous. It was a fun dinner but down to business! When we left the Bride & Groom were still working on vows. Yikes!

Saturday was FREAKING HOT. It was at least 104F according to an average of several temperatures. Pictures started a little late so we had to finish the family group photos after the ceremony, but the ceremony started exactly on time (at least according to my watch which is the only time-piece I have control over that is NOT fast). The ceremony was super short but it was so hot I don't think anybody minded. Family pictures were okay except the sun was really in the wrong spot so a lot of people are squinting, but at least the pictures got taken. After the pictures were done, I took the LG back into town to stay with some friends for the evening. She was so miserable from the heat and having missed her afternoon nap, but as soon as we got in the car to go to Dean & Kristi's, she perked right up and was happy and jabbering most of the way there. (Thanks again for babysitting, you guys! It was so nice to not have to worry a bit about her during the reception.)

The reception was relaxed and it seemed like everybody had a good time and the food was great. The cake stayed in the air conditioned house on-site until about five minutes before the cake-cutting so my worry about the icing melting off and the flowers wilting was completely assuaged. The cake cutting was a funny affair and I heard lots of good comments about the cake (how it looked AND how it tasted). Grandma declared it was the best wedding cake she'd ever had.

The four days after the wedding were crammed full of visiting with more people, trying to go to the beach (it was actually too cold to swim - boo!), going to the drive-in in Chelan, home of THE BEST hot fudge milkshake you will ever consume in your lifetime, lunch with Grandma and Grandpa J (I ate green beans!), a trip to E-Z's for the second best milkshake you'll ever consume, a trip to the petting farm that turned out to be closed but we fed a goat anyway, and a highlight for me - going out for coffee one evening with Christine with NO CHILDREN! *gasp* Christine's baby shower was on Wednesday, sadly sans bebe since that baby has evidently inherited his/her mother's stubbornness and refuses to come out! Sheesh!

We drove back over to Seattle on Thursday night and stayed at Jim & Michelle's (they were on their honeymoon in Kauai). We got to play Wii and I beat Mr. J. at baseball, of all things. Friday we boarded our flight and were on our way back here.

Two weeks was too short for that trip, but at least they were a full two weeks and even though we were all sick the first week, we managed to cope fairly well with the time difference and see almost everybody we wanted to with a few exceptions. Next time though. Oh, oh - and we even got a slight suntan! Will wonders ever cease? I kept attributing my tiredness and illness to the fact that our bodies were absorbing more Vitamin D in a week than they have for the last two years.

Now we are back here (not "Home," just "here") and as I mentioned, it's cold. It's only about 67F here today and the guy on the radio just told me to break out my long johns because it's supposed to get down to 40F tonight (32F is freezing, my Canadian friends so that should give you some idea....). *sigh* 40F.

I have lots of pictures to post, but I'll get to that later. I am so ridiculously far behind in blog reading. At last check, there were over 100 unreads on my Google Reader list - slow down, people! Please!

23 August, 2008

Whip it Up Challenge: Week 7*

*Also known as: Barely Getting in Under the Wire

We only got back to the hotel after midnight last night and tried to get up at 8:30 which since we are now adjusted to Pacific Standard Time, is (way too freaking early) 5:30am. Ugh. So I'm sitting here this morning barely awake, the Little Goat is crawling over one of the beds eating (dumping) cheerios and making a rather crumbly me
ss with a piece of bread, but at least I can sit here and type in peace and down my Special K with milk (*shudder*) without any little hands searching for a taste test.

I actually did two new recipes last week and I'm using one of them for this week per my understanding of the rules which allow me one sort of freebie. Who has had time to cook this week? We've been so busy hopping from one spot to another, meals have been all over the place. It will actually feel nice to get back into some routine this next week.

Anyway, you'll recall that last week I was madly working on a wedding cake for Mr. J.'s sister, Michelle and her new husband Jiminy (okay, Jim, but Jiminy is more fun to say) and I shared a link to a recipe for pastry cream which turned out quite tasty indeed. That was the filling I used in the extra top tier of the cake I made for them to freeze for their first anniversary. The real cake had lime curd as filling in the top two tiers and black raspberry jam in the bottom and my submission for the Whip it Up Challenge, Week Six slathered all over the outside of the cake. Here's the link for an amazingly tasty butter cream icing (or "frosting" if you happen to be American).

The Q & A:

Was the recipe easy to follow?
For sure. If you ever try to make it and you're wondering where to get clear vanilla, check at any store that carries Wilton products - the walmarts or a craft store-type place. You don't have to use clear vanilla, but it will make the icing an even more off-white colour if you use regular.*

...Did it taste good? It really was good, better than I expected in fact and the Bride wanted to eat it by the spoonful.

Would we make it again? Heaven forbid I ever make another wedding cake. I just get too bored and it's just too time-consuming, particularly when we're on vacation and visits and coffee runs with old friends beckon. IF (and I really do mean IF) I ever make another wedding cake, or just a fancy cake for that matter, this will be my go-to recipe for icing. It can't get any easier to make or eat or decorate with and here's the picture.

I have other pictures that show more of the cake in progress, but it's still early and we have 20 minutes to vacate the room. See ya!

*Just in case you're wondering: I could have made a pure-white icing, but that would mean using only vegetable shortening and no butter. Using real butter gives it a proper butter taste; butter flavouring just doesn't have the same subtlety as real butter. Generally, I think making this icing in winter would produce a lighter colour as butter is usually less 'yellow' during the months when dairy cows are eating less fresh grass. Did you know that? There you go. Some companies even add small amounts of food colouring to butter to make it a more 'buttery' colour. Mr. J.'s Dad remembers margarine coming with a little capsule of colouring to stir into the tub to make the margarine 'look' right.

15 August, 2008


So yes, we're super busy and also super-sick but not too busy for an important post.

Tomorrow is a big day for my cousin Marley and also Mr. J.'s sister, Michelle.

So congratulations to Marley & Jared and congratulations to Jim & Michelle - may you both enjoy your day and make lots of happy memories!

Whip it Up Challenge: Week 6

Well here we are in the raging inferno that is Washington State. Presently, it's 100+ degrees (F) and certainly not ideal for icing a wedding cake. Granted the bigger concern is keeping it from melting tomorrow evening before it even gets cut.

So today I finished icing all three cake layers and stacking them. All that's left tomorrow is adding the ribbon and the orchids on top. I'll try to post pictures next week though I may have to wait until we get home since the computer doesn't seem to want to read the card at the moment.

Moving along, my recipe for the Whip it Up Challenge, Week 6 is this pastry cream. I mixed it up on Monday along with the lime curd filling. Instead of just vanilla, I added in some almond flavouring and it turned out really well.

The Q & A:

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Relatively. For a bit there, I wasn't sure it was going to thicken up, but it's just the right consistency and tastes great. Also, it's not nearly as white as the picture shows.

...Did it taste good? Oh yes! Super-rich and just right for cake filling.

Would we make it again? Well I won't be making any wedding cake in the near future (IF EVER AGAIN) so I wouldn't make it again for that, but it would sure taste good squished inside a chocolate cupcake (or vanilla or cherry or pumpkin) or snuggled up next to some dark chocolate in a lovely piece of puff pastry. That said, Erin K., if we get home for Christmas this year, we're going to bake! Something involving pastry and chocolate and cream....Mmmmmm.

Sorry I don't have a picture to post today. I did take one but my head is pounding and by the way, we're all sick, so you'll just have to wait. Thanks for checking out the recipe.

07 August, 2008


So we're in the throes of packing and almost being packed and not quite yet fully packed. The Little Goat is being relatively pleasant this morning which is good because we're holding off on her nap until we get in the car to leave in about an hour.

We're heading back to Washington for Mr. J.'s sister's wedding as some of you may recall from an earlier post and we're heading down to Airport City tonight. We fly out just after noon tomorrow and we get in to Seattle just after 9 PST.

We're bringing our computer - because you know that I and this computer are attached by a semi-permanent USB cable - so I will hopefully get a chance to post a couple times while we're away. I probably won't be visiting blogs as much though so I'm sorry in advance. I'll try to catch up when we get home.

In the meantime, go over and visit Erin at Whitekirk and read about our failed Olympic dream.
(Oh, and please ignore that high school photo. *shudder* We look like we're 12!)

04 August, 2008

Whip it Up Challenge: Week 5

This week is a busy one for us. Mr. J. was on call all weekend and was gone for three hours in the middle of last night; he's working a double tomorrow. Wednesday night we'll be furiously packing only to give up, play Zuma (this is your fair warning: it's addictive!) for an hour, go to bed late, and resume frantically packing on Thursday morning. Thursday we're driving down to Airport City to catch our flight to Seattle via Newark. In retrospect, we should've booked a series of shorter flights instead of one two-hour and one six-hour flight but there's nothing to be done about it now. When we booked the flights, back in...March, I think, we weren't thinking about a squirming crawler/almost-walker who doesn't like to sit still for too long anymore. We were still gazing warmly at our not-yet-crawling Little Goat, playing quietly (for the most part) in one spot (for the most part) on the floor. Hm.

So given all this busyness, I decided to make some sort of desserty type thing we could take on our trip with us. Portable Airport/Airplane 'Supplements'. The recipe is a combination of a kind of blondie recipe topped with copious amounts of Reese's products. A few things about the Reese's: We bought this GIGANTIC bag of Reese's treats for Halloween oh, TWO years ago. We ended up not giving out candy in 2006 because we weren't in our own place yet. Then in 2007 we had all of - wait for it - FIVE (or maybe 6, tops) trick-or-treaters. Tres disappointing. In order to prevent our gourging ourselves on Reece's peanut butter cups, I forced Mr. J. to store them in a grocery bag in the back of his car. That's where they road around for more than a year. We finally brought them inside a few weeks ago and jammed them in the fridge because it was getting too hot to shuttle them around in ol' RubySu (not that we thought of that LAST summer or anything). We decided it was time, we had to use them up. So let me tell you something about two-year old Reece's PB cups - they're lower in fat! It's true!* All the greasy shortening seems to have leaked out and soaked into that piece of cardboard inside the package. Hah!

Therefore, today, I present to you, for the Whip it Up Challenge, Week 5:
Not Really But Sort-of Lower-Fat PB Cup Blondie-ish Squares**
(Sorry, but Blogger isn't letting me upload the picture at the moment.)

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter
scant 1/2 cup sugar
scant 1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Mix in:
1 3/4 cups white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour (or just use white)
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
8 Reese's PB Cups (or however many you have leftover from Halloween 2006)

Spread batter in a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes (or until almost done); top with chopped up Reese's PB Cups and bake for 5-7 minutes longer.

The Q & A:

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yeah, it was. I substituted 1/2 cup of the flours with oatmeal and we added the two leftover snack-packs of Reece's Pieces.

...Did it taste good? Not bad. I think the recipe could be improved by a) not baking it quite as long as I did (I adjusted the time in the recipe above) and b) not messing with the flours and adding oatmeal.

Would we make it again? Maybe, maybe not. I love blondies and the PB cups rocked, but I really need to find a better blondie recipe (I'm open to suggestions here, people. Lest I disappoint you too with this rather dud-ish recipe, read on!

This past weekend I tried another new recipe, though not specifically for the Challenge because I already posted about our fabulous pork last week. I tried Yogurt-Marmalade Cake: To DIE For as posted by Pioneer Woman. I don't know that I would go quite so far as to die for it, but it IS like lemony heaven in my mouth and if you don't make it soon, well, then, shame on you for depriving your tastebuds of such excellent lemony goodness!

Make sure to stop by next week because it'll be an extra-special WIU Challenge week for me. Mr. J.'s sister is getting married on the 16th and I'm in charge of the wedding cake. I've made a wedding cake only once before (see here) so that's not the new recipe. The new recipe will be the pastry cream that's going in the top layer of the cake. If it turns out well, it'll be perfect for adding to all kinds of things....like, um, PASTRY. See you then!

* Okay, not really at all, but a girl can dream, right? RIGHT?!
** Yes, that's right, I called them "squares" and you can be darn thankful I didn't go all out and call them "dainties" because I sure could've. Dangit, I'm Canadian and I don't know a single Canadian who actually calls them "bars." "Bars" are where you go to drink or what you're always supposed to set so high, or things you pass to become a filthy-rich lawyer. "Squares," among other things, are sweet little squares of sugary delectability. So there!

02 August, 2008

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Maureen (of no fixed bloggy address), the proud (at least I hope so) new owner of her very own snowcone machine!

It was a hard battle folks. I had to disqualify several entries because either a) the entrant didn't answer the question or b) the entrant left no way for me to contact them.

Thanks to everybody that entered. I wish I could afford enough snowcone makers for all of you...but, alas, and *sigh*..... What I really wish I could afford is to send you all to the chiropractor because gee whiz! You guys have messed up joints! Out of joint fingers, toes, elbows, knees, and other bizarre bendy abilities ten times weirder than my own.

Hope you all can find a way to continue to keep cool this summer.
Have a great weekend!