Feb 13, 2018

Strawberry Dream Cake

Last month a friend was looking for a non-cake-mix strawberry cake on Facebook. She found this one but you had to subscribe to the newsletter if you wanted to get the recipe... so I did. Then I posted it on her Facebook post.

That cake just kept haunting my thoughts so when fresh strawberries showed up at Ream's I made this yummy cake, from scratch. It was a HUGE HIT at my house. So much so that a couple of weeks later we all wanted it again, but me? I really didn't want to go to all that scratch-cake trouble so I have created what I call-

Strawberry Dream Cake- Lazy Girl's Version
(This cake uses about 3 pints of strawberries)

1 white cake mix
3 eggs white
1/4 c oil
1 1/2 cup strawberry puree (about 1 pint of strawberries)

Put strawberries into food processor or blender and puree. I used fresh sweetened strawberries, but you could go with unsweetened or frozen and defrosted strawberries.

Mix ingredients in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Bake at 350° for 22-28 minutes. Cool completely.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
10 tbs butter, softened
12 oz cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup strawberry pulp

In a food processor or blender puree 1 cup of strawberries. Push through a fine sieve to remove juice. You should end up with about 1/3 cup of pulp. (Reserve juice for a wonderful glass of strawberry milk- yummy!)

In a mixer combine butter and powdered sugar. Cover and beat until it is light and fluffy. Add cubes of cold cream cheese one at a time until combined. Scrape sides. Don’t over mix. Add strawberry pulp.

To Assemble Cake
Slice remaining strawberries and lay on paper towel to absorb some of the juice.

When cakes are cooled, spread 3/4 cup frosting over 1 cake round. Press strawberries in even layer over frosting and cover with additional 3/4 cup frosting (I find it easier to just frost the bottom of the top layer instead of trying to spread frosting across the strawberries). Top with second cake round and spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Garnish with remaining strawberries. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Super Lazy-girl’s version

Pour cake batter into 9 x 13 cake pan. Bake at 350° for 25- 30 minutes. Cool cake.
Prepare a half of recipe of frosting, this makes an ample amount to frost the top of a 9 x 13 cake.

Slice remaining strawberries; sweeten if desired. Serve pieces of cake with sliced strawberries or arrange on the top of the cake.

Original Country Cook's Recipe for Scratch Cake

Strawberry Dream Cake

Ingredients CAKE
  • 10 ounces frozen whole strawberries (2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

  • 1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.
  • 2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
  • 3. Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
  • 4. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Nov 5, 2017

Jesus, My Savior, Jesus, My Friend

Last March I started a new study program. I turned to my journal tonight to remember more of the details.

" 2017March 5
Today is fast Sunday I have been struggling this winter so I've made it a matter of fasting and prayer. I feel like I have received some inspiration on things to do.

Recently President Russell M Nelson gave a devotional and spoke about studying more about the Savior. The first I became aware of it was from social media. He went through the 19 pages of references in the topical guide, referring to Jesus Christ, in 6-weeks. He said he would be using his experience in upcoming conference talks. Bekah (who attended one of these devotionals) told me that he suggested copying the topical guide instead of the constant flipping that I've tried before. So lasterday I scanned those pages, then cropped and edited them, today I printed them and shared the files with Bekah. I'm praying that this will be part of the balm that I so sorely need."
As stated above, President Nelson completed this feat in 6 weeks. I'm not that fast but tonight, 7 months to the day, I finished this challenge.

I'm so grateful for this focused study of the Savior. One of the things that came through loud and clear to me was how much I love the language of the Book of Mormon. Most of the the topics start with Old Testament references and then progress through the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. The doctrine of Christ is taught in such clear terms in the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful for that clarity. I bear testimony that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.

I bear my testimony that Jesus is the Christ. The only begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh. He came to earth as a humble baby, think of it! He was the creator of the Earth. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:3) But He came here to be our Savior- to show us the way, to give His life that we too might live with Him again.

Because of Him this life is not the end. We will be with our loved ones again! Such a joyful thought. I am so grateful for this testimony.

Oct 1, 2017

Blackberry Cream Scones

Friday I posted an instragram photo of my previous fail making these yummy morsels. Both Gordon and I agreed they were so bad that the remaining 6 went into the trash! I used baking soda instead of baking powder! And because I am a curious girl I went looking to see why that was a bad mistake! It turns out that too much baking SODA can give the product a bitter or soapy taste. But when you add an acid, which baking POWDER has in the form of cream of tartar, it neutralizes the bitterness. Ah, chemistry!!

So today, between sessions of conference, I was ready for a do-over on this very promising recipe.
I donned my apron (Nona's favorite pink one), assembled my ingredients, making sure to get baking POWDER, and set to work.

I made a couple of tweaks to this recipe- Friday the dough was too dry. I thought if I sifted the flour it might resolve that problem. Nope, so I just added more cream again. Is my cream to thick? (I love that problem!)

Another thing from Friday- when I folded in the blackberries they just got mooshed into a pulp. So I divided the dough and put them in between two layers.

Cut the circle into 8 pieces-

Transfer to a parchment* lined baking sheet-

Bake to a yummy golden brown-

This is a wonderful, toothsome treat- (even after you drop it on the floor!) They are very light, moist and delicious!

Right down to the last crumbs!!

Maybe next time I will add a little cinnamon to the dough, maybe top it with some sweetened whipped cream.

Funny story about the parchment paper.  I had a new roll in my food storage in the dungeon. When Bekah was here Camille came down to visit. The three of us were talking and cooking and the Bitties were playing in the dungeon with toys. Usually that isn't a problem. But for some reason, THIS-day it became extraordinarily quiet. When I went to check I found that they had opened the parchment paper box on the end and unrolled miles of paper looking for the chocolate chip cookies that surely MUST be inside since they were pictured on the outside of the box!

Bekah said, "Here Me-Mum. Just let me re-roll it!" She did, straightening the somewhat mangled paper, some torn off with jagged edges.  Each time I get out this roll now I chuckle about my Bitties, looking for cookies!

Blackberry Cream Scones
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I needed to add 2-3 Tbs more)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. Placer flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into the food processor and pulse to mix.
  3. Remove lid and sprinkled the butter over the flour mixture. Pulse about 10-15 times till mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
  4. Add vanilla paste to heavy cream, then stir in cream with a rubber spatula until the dough starts to come together. Pour out bowl contents onto a floured surface, and knead a few times, then carefully knead in the blackberries. I sprinkled a few on top, folded the dough over and repeated. You don't want to overwork the dough.
  5. Form dough into an 8-inch round (alternatively, you can press into an 8-inch cake pan lined with parchment, then carefully flip out). Cut into 8 wedges
  6. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake until tops are light brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This is NOT my original recipe! 

Sep 11, 2017

Remembering... 40 years ago

Sunday was Miss Fiona's 4th birthday and Grammie has earned the privilege of being the birthday cake baker! I love this new role! But, actually, it is just returning to a very old role; a 40-year old tradition.

My sweet Mama gave me her cake decorating books and tips (because SHE wanted to learn to decorate cakes) so I could make sweet cakes for my children. I've reflected at how very kind this was of her.

This was my first grand attempt for Tony's 5th birthday. He wanted a cowboy and Indians theme for his party. Back then, when money was so tight, the 5th birthday was the first one where we had a *friends* party for our children.

I went and bought a new decorating tip just to make all of these fun balls on his cake.

(This is the same tip that I pulled out Saturday to create Miss Fiona's master-piece featured in a separate post!)

As I scanned and edited these old photos, yellowed with time, I started having memories pour forth from these simple images.

I think this photo is the one that really got me. The casual observer only sees Tony and Bekah with his party cake and cupcakes for his friends party.

I see-
  • my old Formica table with gold flowered chairs that we bought or acquired when we moved to our trailer in 1974.
  • on the window sill is the start of the first shamrock plant I ever had. Mike had been at a week-long training seminar in Shalishan, Oregon in January and brought back the funny little bulbs for me. It is potted in a Lucerne sour cream container.
  • also on the window sill is a start of my Mom's Christmas cactus, tucked in behind my stylish curtains.
  • out the window I can see our 1970 Chevy Vega, parked at the curb. It was my favorite green.
  • Tony's #17 jersey is one I made him. Mike's favorite number was 17.
And this one of my darling family.

  • Amanda is 11 months old, Bekah is 3.5. I love how interested Tony's sisters are in his special gifts and how he is sharing the experience with them.
  • our not-too-long green shag carpet.
  • my little rocking chair from when I was a tiny girl.
I'm so grateful for these happy memories.

And as long as we are on the memory train I had to share these photos of my darling Tony and his 2nd birthday cake.

I like doing things ahead of time... doing things last minute stresses me out too much. Fortunately I learned this lesson early on in my life and usually avoid a lot of stress...

but not this time.

We'd only lived in Priest River Idaho for 3 months when Tony's 2nd birthday came rolling around.

(Isn't he darling? I love his sleepy morning face!)

Grammy, my Mom, got him this red wagon for his special day.

He's put his favorite toys and his special quilt, made by Auntie Ann, in his new ride.

I'd made a fabulous cake for him. It had homemade marshmallow frosting that came up in beautiful peeks with swirls of dark chocolate on the top and sides. I put it, for safe and secret keeping, on top of the refrigerator.

Imagine my disappointment when I went to get the cake and found that the heat of the fridge had melted all of the marshmallow frosting down around the bottom of the cake. Luckily I had it in a cake-cover-plastic-deal and was able to smear the, now milk chocolate, frosting back up over the cake.

Funny story, but here's the thing... Tony was thrilled that his 21-year old Mommie had made him a special cake for his special day.

I'm so grateful for all the memories that came pouring out along with Fiona's special birthday cake!

Sep 10, 2017

Happy Birthday Miss Fiona!

Somehow I've ended up with the wonderful job of Chief-birthday-cake-baker for some of my grandchildren. I love this job! The Mamas and, now with input from the birthday child herself, find a cake they want Grammie to duplicate.

For some wonderful, unknown reason I have been blessed with being a pretty good copy artist. I am so grateful for the many talents the Lord has blessed me with.

Camille and Fiona found the wonderful PURPLE party cake. The original had multicolored sprinkles that we couldn't find locally, but Camille and the Bitties went out Friday night and found a good substitute at Zonkos (aka Zurchers)! Sixlets.

Behold Miss Fiona's special PURPLE birthday cake.

This Bitty-girl was so thrilled when she found her wonderful cake, hiding under Grammie's make-shift cake carrier! (This is my great-aunt Esther's cake pedestal and it doesn't fit in my regular cake carrier so I yoinked a big plastic bucket I keep my Victorio strainer in. It is just right for a Miss Fiona to fit in, too!!)

We gathered in their backyard on this delightful late summer afternoon! Precious Sophie (and Jessica) brought Fiona this ballet costume. It was the PERFECT party dress for this wonderful girl.





Dig in...

And the special ombre layers inside. (this is the same recipe that Bekah made for me on my birthday- Whipped Cream Cake)

This, THIS is a very happy and blessed Grammie...

Jun 13, 2017

Those Flynn Boys

As I sat down and started looking at photos to write this post I was overwhelmed with a wave of emotion! I accept that my children are all grown into responsible, competent adults but now my grandchildren are going and doing the same darned thing (which is exactly what they are supposed to do... but... but)

JUNE 6, 2017

It sent my mind back to these little boys that made me a Grammie. Prior to Tadhg's birth I'd planned on being Nana, but when I held that darling little red-head I said *Your Grammie loves you!* And I knew that is who I REALLY was!

And it seems like just yesterday that these little monkey-boys were these darling, mischievous little people!

FALL 2003

Now when I call for the Flynn boys after church for our obligatory photo op these are the big men that tower over their little Grammie!


And here is the happiest part of this photo... when I called for the *Flynn boys* to step outside for a photo Curtis stepped right in. I'm so grateful that he knows he is also one of my boys!! (And Bekah and I didn't even coordinate our wardrobe choices!)

We had a wonderful, eventful, yet very busy, 6 days together. Wednesday was Caden's graduation from high school. The weather was delightfully cool for a change.

Thursday we went down to Fresno to the temple and to shop. Tadhg is the selfie-king!!

Friday we were busy. Saturday they got the house ready for Tadhg's open house and we shopped. Sunday, after Tadhg's missionary report in Sacrament meeting, they had friends over for a tasty lunch. I loved when I took a break in the kitchen and found this puppy pile of boys on the couch!

Now I'm trying to come to grips with the fact that likely the next time I visit there will only be one Flynn boy left at home.

May 7, 2017

Cover Down

We live at the mouth of Hobble Creek Canyon, tucked right up in a little area called Spring Cove (there's a spring-fed pond just 2-doors down from us). Usually the canyon breeze is just a delightful treat, bringing in a nice movement of air and the scent of wonderful things from the neighborhood. But ever so often that breeze becomes wicked and goes on the war-path... this is not the first, nor last, wind damage we've had. (Previously we've lost trees, fences and 60% of our roof). 

Last night I was concerned about the fabric of our deck cover as this is its third season and the fabric only lasts 2 season. But I've been dragging my feet buying a new one. I was not expecting to get up and find THIS!

Boy, am I glad I procrastinated!

I would not be a happy camper-ette if I'd just spent $120 that got shredded!

The wind just ripped those welds right apart! and toppled the whole thing! I noticed it pulled part of the down spout with it.

When I went out to get these photos I noticed that it also blew apart the solar lights from the gate posts.

I've been wanting to do something different to cover the deck... now I guess I have a clean slate, don't I?

Apr 24, 2017

Happy Bakers

It's been several months since I've gotten to have the Bitties at my house for Grammie day, I usually go to their house. There is something wonderful about welcoming them into MY domain. As I was walking this morning I thought, "What should we do today?" Mama was bringing the trolley (double stroller), but it looked like rain. I decided that baking bread was always a good idea and we haven't done that for over a year.

They arrived just before lunch so I had frozen bing cherries waiting for them on the counter (which needed to be warmed up, too cold!) Fiona was delighted with the purple cherry juice left in the bottom of her bowl (and Grammie was delighted with Liam's remaining cherries!) But as soon a sausage appeared on the counter it was all about the sausage for Liam!

Now I have to tell you about the sweet little apron that Fiona has on in this pix! A couple of weeks ago I got a surprise package from my sister, Sue.

As soon as I saw my old ducky apron I started to cry! I wore this so many times when I was my Mama's A#1 expert helper! So many sweet memories flooded back. I was so pleased that Sue still had it these 60+ years later! (I likely gave it to Cindy when she was a little girl, that is where all of my favorite things went!)

We had a little play time outside... until it started to rain (Yay for rain!), but no trolley walk today!

When I suggested bread making Fiona was still too wrapped up in playing so my first assistant was this very able-bodied boy. Both of these children are so smart and capable! He unwrapped the butter all by himself (Hiam do it! Yes, Hiam, he can't say Ls yet!)

When Fiona joined us a few minutes later she wanted her usual pink apron, "it's so beautiful!" And these obliging Bitties share back and forth so nicely!

They took turns putting in all of the ingredients (Yes, they used that word!) to make the dough! Every once in a while one or both of them would put their hands on their hips and say, "Hmmm!" Makes me laugh!! They did it all, even the egg cracking!

Grammie is always very liberal with tastes along the journey... isn't that what it's all about? Fiona did all of this spreading by herself! Such a confident big girl!

I gave them both a little knife to cut off tastes. Liam was so pleased to spread his own little sample.

 All told we made three loaves: one for eating now, one to go home with the Bitties and one for Grammie and Grampy to enjoy at their leisure! There was only about 3" left of that first loaf by the time we'd all, including Mommy, had our fill.

I revel in these marvelous times that I get to spend with my darling grandchildren! In the last two weeks I've had this treat with big (Ashton) and small (Fiona, Liam and Emmy). There is such a sweetness in being with these marvelous people.

I am such a blessed Grammie!

Apr 21, 2017

Happiness is- Tony

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Tony! He would be 45 today. This is the wonderful person who made me a mother.

(I went looking for a photo of me at 45 and I could only find two, neither one blog worthy. Moms don't end up with many photos of themselves, do they?)

In the 1960s there was a cartoon panel titled Happiness Is... My Gramma used to cut out the ones she thought were pertinent to me and send them to me!

So a few years later when my Mom and I saw this little outfit that said *Happiness Is* we had to get it for Tony's blessing outfit. My Mama, the best handiwork woman I know, added *TONY*!

Happiness truly is Tony! He was born, after a 26 hour labor, with a congenital defect, gastroschisis. In 1972 the prognosis was bleak. We were told he would not live beyond 24 hours, but, if, by some miracle he did, his abdomen would look like a road map from all of the surgeries.

Long story short (that's about all I'm up for this day) through faith, prayer and the tender mercies of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Tony only had 2 surgeries, one to contain the intestines and one to close his abdomen! He was the Miracle Baby of Ped 3B.

I am so blessed that I got to keep Tony here for 9 years 3 months 13 days. I feel that Tony wasn't meant for this world, but the Lord granted me more time before taking him back home.  I am so very grateful that this wonderful man is a very real part of my family. I, and his siblings, frequently feel him close, watching over us and cheering us on.

I am so blessed!

Apr 4, 2017

Certain Women

I've been thinking about this post ever since I listened to Linda K Burton's talk Certain Women in the General Women's Broadcast. I even sat down one night to create a graphic and write this post and found, much to my dismay, that I didn't have any suitable photos to use. (How could that be? It's like I stopped taking photos!)

Frequently there will be conference talks that just speak to my heart, and this is one of them. Sister Burton used the biblical descriptor of *certain women*, some named, some unnamed, who had strong abiding testimonies of the Savior, Jesus Christ and His divine mission.

She gave the definition of *certain women* and it called to MY CERTAIN WOMAN HEART!

In the next few days I shared MY certain testimony that Jesus is the very Son of God and my personal Savior with members of my family.

Now I share it again, with all of you.

I know that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God. He was born, lived a perfect life, accepted willingly to bear the burden of all the pain, sickness, sins and grief of ALL who will come unto Him, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure faithfully to the end. He love EACH of His children perfectly. He wants us to be successful and return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again. He will comfort us through all our trials, he will never leave us alone and he will never test us beyond our abilities.

I am so very grateful for my loving Savior and His selfless atonement.