LOST RECIPE FOUND!

Losing anything is frustrating but losing a favorite recipe is worse.  I baked a delicious banana cake for my family all through high school.  With cream cheese or buttercream frosting, it was one of our all-time favorites.  But by the time I was married and setting up my own household, it was lost.  I duplicated my mother’s iconic Better Homes & Garden red plaid cookbook and wrote down countless other favorites for my own recipe file but could not remember where the banana cake recipe originated.  At the time it wasn’t such a loss because I thought a common recipe like that must be easy to find in one of the many cookbooks in my collection.  But I was wrong.  None of them were the same.

After my mother passed away I added her cookbooks to my own; but now that I am in my sixties, I have plenty of favorite recipes from years of perfecting and collecting and usually op for my standards.   On a whim one day I picked up a worn paperback Home Bureau cookbook, 1945, that had  been my grandmother’s and began looking for my own notes in the pages.  I found the taffy recipe I made for my brothers and the 7 Minute Frosting recipe that was popular in my youth.  Then I found it…the Banana Nut Cake.  Written in my scribble at the top was the word “good.”

Those World War II era recipes were a bit of a challenge when I was growing up.  I learned that a moderate oven was 350 degrees F., a slow oven was 325 degrees, and a hot oven was 400 – 425 degrees.  The recipe usually didn’t suggest a pan size either; it was just something most cooks knew.  I learned this recipe is a perfect cake for a 9×13″ pan; but because I crave this cake, I now bake it in two 8″ pans.  I serve one immediately and freeze the second for another day.  This prevents me from eating all left-over pieces.  A little of this moist cake thick with frosting goes a long way on my thighs.

WWII BANANA NUT CAKE

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup ripe bananas cut fine or mashed [3]
  • 1/4 cup sour milk or buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cut chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups flour

METHOD:  Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt together 3 times.  Cream butter, add sugar and cream together, add beaten eggs and bananas, then flour and milk alternately.  Beat after each addition.  Add nuts and vanilla in some of the flour.  Bake in greased pan [9×13″] in moderate oven [350 degrees].  [35 to 40 minutes]

 

Cake baked in two 8" pans.

Cake baked in two 8″ pans.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FOR ONE 9X13 OR 2 8″ CAKES:  Cream 1 small block cream cheese with 1 teaspoon vanilla in mixer.  Add 1 lb powdered sugar and enough 1/2 and 1/2 or cream to make of spreading consistency.  Double this recipe if you wish to make a layer cake.

TIP:  To assemble a layer cake, freeze cake layers until firm.  Fill center and stack.  Frost stacked cake with a light crumb coat.  Before frosting the outside, you may return the cake to the freezer or refrigerator to set crumb coat.  Frost the top and sides of the cake.

 

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Indoor Tree

 

Cedar in Vintage Stump Pottery Vase

Cedar in Vintage Stump Pottery Vase

This little cedar has dwelt happily in a vintage pottery stump vase since I found it outside in autumn of 2014.  Last Christmas it lived on the mantle of the sunroom as a natural holiday tree.  Soft garden moss and tiny cones nestle around its base.  I found another growing in the rocks around our foundation and will transplant it to a roomy pot to live on my back porch.  This fall it will come inside as well and live the fairytale life of a Christmas tree with its older cousin.  Oh the serendipitous delights of nature’s gifts.

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Nesting on the Porch

The bay tree has been moved from its winter home in the basement to our back porch.

An inquisitive bird of unknown origin thought it would be a good spot to nest.

Back Porch Bay Laurel Tree

Back Porch Bay Laurel Tree

The nest holds one pretty brown speckled egg.  I haven’t spotted the mother bird on the egg; hopefully she hasn’t abandoned the nest for a less-trafficked location.

One Lone Egg

One Lone Egg

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Quick Raised Bed From a Pallet

I am taking an idea from Pinterest–using a pallet to make a quick raised garden bed.  Although this idea would work best for annuals like lettuce and spinach, I needed a new location for strawberries.  Their former bed is too shaded due to a fast growing maple tree. We have several pallets left from the stone work my husband did last year. I chose a sturdy one with all of its slats.  Nail scrap lumber or slats from the other pallets to the open ends and the fork lift holes on the sides. You now have a box with open slats.  Choose a sunny place in the garden.  Cover the ground where the pallet will rest with cardboard or several layers of newspaper.  This will kill the grass under the pallet.  Lay the pallet on the cardboard.  Now fill with loose potting soil.  Add enough soil to make up for settling after watering. I transplanted my ever-bearing strawberries from their old bed and watered them well.  Now comes the true test–to see if they bear in their new location AND whether or not they winter over in their pallet box.  If not, this will be next summer’s spinach bed.

Pallet Strawberry [with unwelcome maple seeds]

Pallet Strawberry Bed  [with unwelcome maple seeds]

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How to Age a New Stuffed Animal

Vintage stuffed animals tug at my heart. Their scruffy fur and worn patches are visible proof of loving owners.  I have two new white bears  in my crafting stash that need some character.  Before they find their place as shabby chic’ accessories, I’m going to give them an old age makeover.

Before [L] and After [R]

Before [L] and After [R]

Clip fur on face to expose eyes and features.   Vintage stuffed animals show wear on the faces from lots of kisses.

Clip fur on face to expose eyes and features. Vintage stuffed animals show wear on the faces from lots of kisses.

The new white bear gets a cold strong coffee bath.  Soak only the surface of the fur by sponging coffee on surface.

The new white bear gets a cold strong coffee bath. Soak only the surface of the fur by sponging coffee on surface.

Let bear dry overnight.

Let bear dry overnight.

For a truly vintage look, I coffee dyed raw wool and needle punched the stained bear to give him a new wool coat.

For a truly vintage look, I coffee dyed raw wool and needle punched the stained bear to give him a new wool coat.

 

All done and ready for love.

All done and ready for love.

 

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Friendly Neighbor

I enjoy having cats around but I’m not so sure I want another one to care for on a full-time basis.  The solution arrived in the person of Mortimer, our next-door neighbor’s young black and white kitty.

Mortimer

Mortimer

Mortimer 018

He comes over whenever we work outside hoping to worm his way into our affections and receive constant petting.  This friendly guy can’t seem to get enough attention.  Today he “helped” us plant the potatoes.  Imagine planting with a persistent cat underfoot.  Still it is the best of both worlds.  We enjoy endless petting and play…and he goes home to be fed.

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Basement Rennovation Into Summer Kitchen

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Our basement began life as the stable of our one-hundred-year-old dairy barn.  When we converted the barn into shops and a tearoom restaurant, the front section of the stable became a garden shop.  After thirteen years, we closed our restaurant, converted the shops into a rustic home, and opened a collectable shop in the basement.  We operated Farm Grove Collectables for another thirteen years.

But the life of this vintage room changed again when we closed our home-based business and retired to a life of mentoring, gardening and maintaining our barn home.  My husband put doors made of wainscoting on the simple shop cabinets turning them into primitive kitchen cabinets.  With rustic primitives I had collected from auctions and family and reproduction primitive cabinets my father made, we had the trappings of an early 1900’s summer kitchen–the time period when the barn was originally built. An old wood-burning stove I used for display in our shop is the crowning touch to our new basement room.  I would love to restore the stove to make it usable but venting the stove properly is not possible with three wood stories above it.  Although the stove and sink do not work they add charm.  However the cabinets work wonderfully,  holding all my canning and camping supplies.

The room is the lower entrance into the barn where we have easy access to garden tools and supplies.  It also serves as a mud room where we can change out of soiled shoes and boots before going upstairs.

Ah the joy of having a place for everything and everything in its place.

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