Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's Time For Berry Shortcake



It's happened again. Summer has just rushed by and I'm already seeing back-to-school commercials on TV (and starting to dread impending back-to-school traffic on my daily commute).

But it's still blazing hot outside and the calendar does still say August... which means summer hasn't departed yet... which means easy fruit desserts are on my mind often.





A quick detour on the state of my mind with respect to dessert: I'm a total sugar addict and can't get through the day without thinking about eating and making some kind of yummy, decadent dessert. I know, you'd never know it by looking at my In The Kitchen page, which is sadly underpopulated. But I'm trying to watch what I eat and writing a lot of posts about desserts and dessert recipes means making (and eating) a lot of desserts. So, not so many dessert posts so far. How do food bloggers (especially those focused on desserts) do what they do and not gain a zillion pounds?





Anyway, back onto the topic of easy, summer desserts...and what is easier to throw together than berry shortcake?

All it takes is...

1. A quick and easy sweet biscuit
2. Berries of your choice with a little sugar
3. Sweetened and whipped cream.





I used strawberries and raspberries here. I would have used blackberries as well, for the extra bit of contrasting tartness and color, but the grocery store was out.




Since fruit desserts tend to get better if they sit at least 12 hours, I think it's a good idea to macerate the berries with sugar the day before. This allow flavors to meld and intensify, and if needed, you can add a little more sugar to taste the next day before you assemble the dessert and eat it.





I like to whip the cream until just the soft peak stage...





...so that it droops and drips very nicely around the berries and shortcake.





A yummy, crumbly shortcake adds just enough sweetness to complement the berries without competing with them.




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Here is the recipe...

Berries

2 pints strawberries (hulled and sliced)
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or more, if needed)

Shortcake

2/3 cup (1 1/4 stick) ice-cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (plus extra for brushing)
1/2 cup buttermilk
turbinado sugar for dusting

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Make the berry topping:

1. Combine the strawberries and sugar and toss gently. Let the berries sit for about 30 minutes until they release some of their juice and very gently stir in the other berries (be extra careful with the raspberries, which tend to fall apart easily). As I mention above, it's a good idea to prepare the berries one day in advance, since the flavor improves with age. Of course you can use whatever combination of berries you prefer (including blueberries). After the berry mixture has sat for at least 12 hours, you can adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar if needed. How much will depend on how sweet you like it, and how sweet and flavorful the berries were to begin with. 


Make the shortcake:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of two cookie sheets (or butter and flour each sheet)

2. Sift together the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the 2/3 cup of butter. Using an electric mixer set at medium speed, mix together until the mixture is crumbly (up to 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the 1/2 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of butter milk, beating on low speed until the liquid is incorporated and the mixture is soft and thick (and not too wet).

3. Use a 4-oz ice-cream scoop to form each shortcake. Pack the mixture so that it is even with the top of the scoop and release onto the prepared cookie sheet. Each shortcake should be about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Brush the heavy whipping cream onto the tops of the shortcakes and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

4. Bake the shortcakes until a light golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the shortcakes from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets set on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer the shortcakes to the wire racks and allow to cool completely before assembling the berry shortcake desserts.


Make the sweetened whipping cream:

1. Place the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in a chilled bowl and beat with an electric beater, starting on the low setting and gradually increasing the speed.

2. When the cream starts to thicken, gradually add the powdered sugar until the cream is sweet enough for your liking. Add the vanilla, Beat until the mixture just reaches the soft peak stage. Chill the whipped cream until you are ready to assemble the berry shortcakes.


Assemble:

1. Cut the shortcakes in half.

2. Placing the bottom half in a bowl, top with the berry mixture and a dollop of whipped cream

3, Place the top half of the shortcake on the berry/cream mixture, top with another scoop of berries and another spoonful of whipped cream


The shortcakes can be stored at room temperature for a couple days in a plastic storage bag. The berry mixture and whipped cream should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Thanks for visiting!


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Most likely linking to the following this week....




That DIY Party at DIY Showoff






Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch














Five Star Frou-Frou at a Tray of Bliss




I was featured at:

Amaze Me Monday #176 at Dwellings The Heart of Your Home



Best of the Weekend at Hello Little Home and Little Miss Celebration












Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cabin Progress: Still Working on It



I'm starting to sound like a broken record, aren't I? In almost every cabin-related post I've said something like---'cabin progress trudging along', 'slowly getting to the finish line', and 'almost done'. Well..... we're still working on it.






My husband thinks we can wrap it up in just a few more days next time we visit the cabin. But I'm skeptical after all our gross miscalculations regarding our construction schedule. 


We'll see...

Here are some highlights and a few milestones from our last trip back to the cabin.
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I'm pretty ecstatic with the way the window and door casings turned out. I wanted the cabin to have a strong rustic flair without being overwhelmed with too much unpainted and dark wood. Painting the tongue-and-groove plank walls white helped to balance things out and really showcase the nice and beefy stained window and door casings, the salvaged-wood look ceiling, and the floors (granted the floors are filthy in these photos, so you can't see what they look like...but some day they will be clean and pretty again).








I love the way the ceiling turned out. Since we wanted the look of salvaged wood up there without the outrageous expense, we bought new, 4-inch tongue-and-groove pine planks and aged them using steel wool, vinegar, and a tea solution. On-site wood-aging factory shown below....





Click here to for a detailed tutorial on how to age wood, and here for a quick overview of how I aged the ceiling planks shown below in my 'wood-aging factory'. The floor planks got the same treatment.

We had the electrician who did the initial rough-in work come back and install all the lighting and electrical fixtures. We're both over the moon about the rustic chandelier with its mason jar-like globes.

I wish we had gone with recessed lighting, since I think the track lights stand out like a sore thumb on our nice ceiling. I'm thinking they will need to come down at some point so I can spray paint them a rust color so that they aren't so obtrusive.





According to the description for the flush-mount ceiling light shown below, it's supposed to 'bring a feel of a maritime port' to any room. However, I think it works just fine in a rustic bathroom in a mountain cabin very far from the ocean.

Ugh, those galvanized metal panels in the shower! There was certainly a lot of harsh language flying around when my husband was wrestling with them during the installation. Still need to add stained wood trim pieces. Love the pebble shower floor.

By the way, the official name of the toilet is 'Stately Memoirs' (according to the packaging). Who thinks up these names??





Remember the old barn light from this post





Here it is installed over the kitchen sink...




Finally being able to turn on the kitchen tap and have CLEAN water come out was a huge milestone.






A few days before I took the photo above, we discovered that some chipmunks and their field mice friends decided to crawl into the outflow pipe for our water tank. They crawled all the way through the pipe and fell into the tank, where, unfortunately for them and for us, they drowned, making a terrible, smelly mess (think several months of decomposition).

My husband had to crawl down into the tank and clean out all that disgusting water one bucket at a time. You can see him down there in the photo below, sitting in the filthy, pestilential water. And see that rope attached to the bucket? That allowed me to pull up each bucket and dump the contents (complete with little, bloated corpses) in an area far from the water tank. It was awful, awful, awful.

It took lots of Clorox and several hours of flushing water through the system to get to the clear, clean water shown above.





To speed things up, we decided to wait to install the deck shown in the rendering below until after we pass our final inspection. Click here for more on the deck.





All we need right now is a set of stairs at each door to pass.





I'm going to end with some photos of the gorgeous surrounding country (and my dog), since I don't have any pretty photos of the finished cabin...yet.



Rosie Bear supervises...




Waterfall in a slot canyon near the cabin.




Capitol Reef pasture in the morning...





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Thanks for visiting!





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Most likely linking to the following this week....





Roses of Inspiration Linkup at The Enchanting Rose



Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia



Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Five Star Frou-Frou at a Tray of Bliss
Share It One More Time at DesignThusiasm

I've been featured at:

Wow Us Wednesdays #286 at Savvy Southern Style
Home Sweet Home #284 at The Charm of Home

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Best of the Weekend at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes




Sunday, June 19, 2016

One Sunny Morning in Capitol Reef






Hello, I thought I would check in and say that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  My husband and I have been dealing with family issues and health problems over the past few months, and that has taken all my time and energy.  Just can't fit blogging into the picture right now.  

I hope to get back to blogging soon, but in the meantime I thought I would share some photos of Capitol Reef.  My husband and I recently spent a couple of days at the cabin between various family visits and on the last morning I was able to spend a few hours wandering around with my camera in the historic Fruita farming settlement in Capitol Reef.

I never get tired of the dramatic contrast between the lush green that surrounds the Fremont River and the red cliffs that tower above. 








The National Park Service has preserved much of the fruit orchards and buildings that were part of the historic farming community that was established along the Fremont River in the late nineteenth century.   Visitors are allowed to pick fruit from these orchards for a small fee.  I've actually made apricot jam from apricots picked here....

















There is a small herd of mule deer that live in the Fruita area year-round, and can almost always be found grazing in the shaded, grassy park and campground next to the river (when they aren't in the orchards eating fruit).  Deer know a good thing when they find it.






A couple of the does looked pregnant. If I'd been there a few weeks later I would have seen a few fauns gamboling around.





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Thanks for visiting!


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Most likely linking to the following this week....
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
Roses of Inspiration Linkup at The Enchanting Rose
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Idea Box Thursday at Mila's Little Things
Vintage Charm Party at My Thrift Store Addiction and Charm Bracelet Diva
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Inspiration Thursday at In The New House Designs
Five Star Frou-Frou at a Tray of Bliss
Something to Talk About at Karen's Up On The Hill
Share It One More Time at DesignThusiasm


I was featured at:

Tweak It Tuesday #199 at Cozy Little House




Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Ongoing Quest for Unique Cabin Stuff





The finish work on the cabin is trudging along at a snail's paste and I am ready, ready, READY to start decorating.

We missed our February deadline.  I was able to negotiate a one year extension to next February with the water board (day job skills kicking in here), but this just gives us permission to dawdle even more.  




If you aren't familiar with the big, scary deadline that has been looming over us for the last several years, click here. The short story for those who can't tear themselves away from this riveting tale of OCD shopping: keeping our water permit is contingent on us getting our certificate to occupy by a specific deadline.

So, because I'm frustrated with the slow pace, and because there is little I can do to help finish the cabin (I can paint, apply wood stain, and stand around and dictate design decisions...we'll see how that works out; I'm feeling a little iffy about the shower, which was my idea), I've been shopping madly.  Systematically scouring all the local antique stores, looking, looking, looking for all those elusive items that will spell unique, cabin perfection and guarantee a lifetime of relaxed happiness in our little place far from the madding crowd.  

Things on my list have included:


Two bedside tables

Two easy chairs and a side table/coffee table
Table and two chairs (for eating)
Deck furniture
Vanity mirror or cabinet for bathroom


Thanks to some really terrific finds over the past few weeks, I've been able to cross several of these items off of my list and add to the growing pile of cabin stuff waiting to be transported to the finished cabin.  

My husband and I are so delighted that our house is turning into a warehouse for the storage of cabin furniture and other related items.

Read on for an overview of my latest haul of cabin loot...




Bedside Tables

I'm so excited about this little table.  This is probably the one and only time that I didn't go through my normal indecisive routine where I walk around the store for 30 minutes trying to decide whether I really want the thing or not (or leave, think about it for a few days, and then return, to look at it again and think some more).  

It was absolutely the right size and shape, had enough storage options, and had the right look for what I have in mind.  So I bought it immediately.






It is solid wood (looks like oak) construction and simple, geometric details leads me to believe it is likely an Eastlake piece (probably mass produced in the U.S.), a type of furniture produced between 1870 and 1890.  According to this website (click here), the creation this style of furniture was in response to English architect Charles Lock Eastlake urging late 19th century designers to veer away from the over-the-top, intricate ornamentation typical of Victorian-era furniture and decorating styles.

The simple, straightforward detailing of this table will be perfect in a mildly rustic cabin setting that has a touch of vintage style.

Still looking for a companion bedside table to go along with this one.  

In the spirit of recycling and re-using what we already have, I'm going to paint/re-finish a bed frame that my husband made years ago (no photos available right now).





Tables/Chairs

I found this table last summer (click here for more on this). I'm planning on painting the base and re-finishing the top.




I found two chairs which seemed perfect at the time (for painting-see photo below), but now am having second thoughts since I broke the cardinal rule and bought rickety chairs.  

So we'll see if I end up using them.






Bath Vanity Mirror/Cabinet

I've been hunting long and hard for something to go over the bathroom sink.



I found this a few weeks ago and thought I was done with my bathroom vanity mission.  It's vintage.  It has the right amount of simple ornamentation.  Its rich brown finish will contrast nicely with the white painted ship lap on the walls and galvanized metal shower.  The mirror is beveled (for some reason this is very important to me; I think it has something to do with wanting an extra bit of elegance in the wilderness)....





And then I found this last weekend....It has all the criteria I list above plus storage.  I can never resist storage.  However, it will likely not work with the vanity light that I have already purchased, which doesn't stick out far enough from the wall. 

Which means I may need to buy a different kind of vanity light.... we'll see.



Shown below are other odds and ends that I've picked up and that seem to say 'cabin' to me in one way or another...

This very unique little silver pitcher.  Love the little frieze of birds that runs around the middle... 



...and the intricate detail on the feet, which look like animal paws.





No cabin can be complete without antlered stags in one form or another....





My husband told me that this delightfully banged up metal bin is a minnow bucket.  It looks like someone dragged it down the road for a few miles.  Since I don't plan on storing minnows in the cabin, I will use it to store something more useful (linens? cleaning supplies? magazines?)



Another old vanity cabinet that I will use somewhere for open shelving (living/bedroom area? kitchen?).  I had initially planned on using this on the bathroom wall opposite the sink, but if I end up using the mirrored vanity cabinet, that might be too much shelving hanging on the walls of a very tiny bathroom.

The ugly linoleum backing will definitely be going away and be replaced with??





I immediately fell in love with this mule, and apparently the feeling was mutual, because he insisted on coming home with me.  




Perfect for a cabin located in rugged, rocky country where sure-footed mules and burros were once used to transport people and goods (think pioneers forging westward in their covered wagons or scruffy miners prospecting in remote mountain areas).




So many fun things that I can't wait to start playing around with!


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Thanks for visiting!


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Linking to the following this week....
Roses of Inspiration Linkup at The Enchanting Rose
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home