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Chocolate Layer Cake and Valentine’s Day – What A Great Combination

As I thought of what I wanted to share with you for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share something really sensational.  I have shared many different chocolate recipes on this blog and if you browsed through my recipe collection you would see a great assortment of chocolate recipes.  Yesterday I started thinking of what would be a great Southern chocolate dessert to share with you.

I remembered this layered chocolate cake that my brother-in-law’s Mother made every year at Christmas.  I don’t remember if it was 10 thin layers or 12 but I do remember how delicious it was.  There was a richer old fashioned icing on the cake.  I know this cake has to be a labor of love but I bet it wins the prize in making family members happy. I have requested the recipe but it was never given to me and I understand that people like to keep their recipes in the family.  Thanks to the internet, I found the recipe I am sharing with you today.  It is from the New York Times and I am including the introduction that I think illustrates the Southern background of the recipe.

Chocolate Little Layer Cake

  • Time2 1/2 hours
  • Yield One 12-layer cake

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 2 sticks butter, more to grease pans
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • cup shortening
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups milk

FOR THE ICING:

  • 5 cups of sugar
  • cup cocoa
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

PREPARATION

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease three 9-inch cake pans and line with rounds of parchment or waxed paper.
  2. In a mixer, cream together butter, sugar and shortening until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time and continue to mix on medium until eggs are well incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Sift flour, then add salt, baking soda and baking powder. Sift a second time. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and milk in about 4 additions, then increase speed to medium. Beat until smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl.
  4. Spread 3/4 cup batter in each pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until cake springs lightly when pressed with a finger. Flip cake out of pan onto paper towels or cake rack while still very warm. Repeat with second set of layers.
  5. When first layers go into oven, start to make icing. Put sugar and cocoa in a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan and mix well. Turn heat to medium-high and add butter and milks, bringing to a boil. Boil for about 4 minutes, stirring continually, careful to watch that it does not boil over. Lower heat to simmer, add vanilla and stir occasionally for another 7 to 10 minutes. If using a candy thermometer, cook to the point just before soft ball stage or about 230 degrees.
  6. Begin icing first layers, still warm, when second batch is in the oven. Flip layers over so that top side faces up. Use about 4 tablespoons of icing per layer. Icing will be thin but will firm up as it cools. Stack layers, then continue icing and stacking as layers are baked.
  7. When all layers are iced and stacked, glaze top and sides of cake. Contours of layers will be visible through icing. If icing hardens too much while frosting cake, set back on low heat and stir until it is spreadable.

If Mr. D wasn’t diabetic, I would love to make this for Valentine’s Day.  On second thought though, does a chocoholic like me, need a wonderful layer cake with old fashioned chocolate tempting me?  Probably not.  This recipe is going into my “Recipes I want to make file.”  I am sure I will be able to prepare it for a special occasion soon.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!!!

 

Carolina Panthers – Super Bowl and Alton Brown WIngs

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I have to say that I am getting excited about the Super Bowl game on Sunday and the possibility of the Carolina Panthers winning it all as they play the Denver, Broncos.  I live about 60 miles from Charlotte and that is the home of the Panthers.  Needless to say, there is a lot of hype and excitement about the game here.  For some time I have not been that excited about professional sports in general.  I do watch Nascar and that is or was a very Southern thing at one time.  Most professional sports have become so corporate and I know from my corporate days that it is a “meet and greet” event for so many companies. Lots of people can’t afford the tickets anymore.

However, I did watch the Panthers win the championship game two weeks ago and I have to admit that it was exciting. I know I will be excited again on Sunday Night as we watch the game. Before I share the Chicken Wings Recipe I will be making for Sunday, I do have a few snippets about the Panthers that I want to share with you.  Some of them are from local newscasts over the last couple of weeks.

One of the Panthers defensive players was asked what he thought of playing Peyton Manning and he said if he intercepted one of Peyton’s passes he would then go to Peyton and bow down to him.  I am a BIG Peyton Manning fan too.

The Panthers tradition this year that was started by Cam Newton is to give the football to a child after scoring a touchdown.  I love to see that and the excitement of the kids in the end zone.

Ron Rivera, the coach of the Panthers, had a wonderful sendoff from his neighbors and his yard and neighborhood was decorated with encouraging fans as he left for San Francisco on Sunday.

There was a pep rally in Charlotte last Friday and 30,000 people attended.  On Sunday as the Panthers left for California, people had lined up for hours along their destination route to the airport to cheer them on.

And lastly, I have always thought Payton Manning was such a classy quarterback and have always wanted him to win, but not this time.  I also think that Cam Newton is a great role model.  There has been much criticism about him but when I watched him in the championship game, I saw a player that has a great passion and love for the game.  By the way, Peyton was born in New Orleans and Cam was born in Atlanta.  Hmmmm, just two good old Southern boys that have done good.

Today, I am sharing a link to a food network post of Alton Brown and it is for chicken wings.  It has a video of Alton preparing the wings and I think that is a great help.  Mr. D and I wanted crispy wings that were then basted in a sauce.  That is what appealed to me about Alton’s version. We are looking forward to making these on Sunday.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/buffalo-wings-recipe.html

I hope you will join with me and pull for the Panthers on Sunday.  Winter isn’t my favorite time of the year but the excitement of the Super Bowl has changed my focus and given me something special to look forward to.  I hope the Panthers Keep On Pounding and lots of kids in the end zone get Cam Newton footballs.  YIPPEE!  YAY!  YAY!

 

 

Hart Square of Catawba County

Since the beginning of this blog I have struggled with the photographs that I post.  I think that is the perfectionist in me and I want them to look like something a profession photographer would produce.  Now that I realize that and also realize I am not a professional photographer maybe I will begin to share more pictures with you.

The post I am sharing with you today is an event Mr. D and I attended last October.  It is the Hart Square Festival and is located in Catawba County. Hart Square is a vision of a local doctor.  Dr. Bob Hart bought the property in the 70’s and intended for it to be a wildlife preserve. After owning it for a few years someone approached him and told him they knew of a log cabin nearby that was falling down and would look good on one of the two main lakes on the property.  That was the beginning of this restored 1840’s Carolina Village.

The 200 acre village includes 5 ponds with ducks and geese.  There are 101 restored buildings on the property and on the day of the festival that occurs the fourth week in October, there are 95 to 100 craftsman and artisans demonstrating their craft during the festival.  The number of attendees is limited through ticket sales.

The festival is amazing and I really felt as if I had been transported back in time.  I have been to historic places in Charleston, SC, Savannah, GA and Williamsburg, VA.  However, this was so much easier to relate to as each restored building had a plaque that showed where it was moved from and the history of the building.  The buildings were from local families and properties and I knew the locations of their beginnings.

For more information about Hart Square, here is a link to their website:  http://www.hartsquare.com/

Below I am sharing pictures from the Festival and I am not describing each individual picture.  I thought the best way for you to enjoy it was to just look at the exquisite detail that has been created in this village.

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I have to admit that Mr. D took most of these pictures but I did take a few of them.  We were truly amazed at Dr. Hart’s vision and enjoyed the day so much.  We were very fortunate to have thoughtful friends that treated us to the day at the festival.  What else could we ask for.  I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by.

The Championship Game – Carolina Panthers Versus Arizona Cardinals

Image result for carolina panthers

On Sunday the NFL Carolina Panthers football team will play for the NFC championship.  They are based in Charlotte and have only lost one game this year.  We aren’t really big football fans anymore.  At one time we followed all the games and Mr. D was lucky enough to attend the Panthers inaugural game that was played in Clemson, South Carolina.  Here is a picture of that inaugural game ticket.

inagural ticket 2

I lived in Charlotte after graduating from a local community college and that is where Mr. D and I met.  Our first home after marriage was in Huntersville, NC that is in the Lake Norman area of Mecklenburg County.  I tried to think of some special recipe to share with you today as I browsed through my Cooking With Authority cookbook published by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority in 1990.

The following recipes brought back special memories for me of recipes that I made or ate during the early years of our marriage. The first one is porcupine meatballs and I remember making these for Mr. D and I failed to cook the rice first.  They were not good to say the least but he was always so encouraging and never said a word until after the meal.  Then he did mention that he thought they were just a little bit to crunchy.

porcupine meatballs

The second recipe is a very easy cake recipe that anyone can make.  It reminds me of a recipe that a co-worker shared with me.  We had a fellow employee with a birthday and had forgotten.  She went out at lunch and bought the ingredients and made this cake for him.  I don’t remember the yogurt being in the recipe and I honestly believe she used cherry pie filling.  All in all it was good and our birthday friend was remembered on their special day.  In the 70’s we did not have deli-bakeries in our grocery stores so you couldn’t run out and purchase a cake and have a birthday wish written on it.  We have so many conveniences today that we take for granted.

angel food cake dessert

As I write this post we are in the middle of a snowstorm and I hope you are safe and warm today.  Also, I hope the Carolina Panthers Keep Pounding all the way to the Super Bowl in two weeks.  Enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by.

PAM Pancakes And James Gregory the Comedian

Today I am going to talk about food and pancakes.  First of all, I wanted to share a memory from New Year’s Eve 2015.  James Gregory is a comedian that lives in the Atlanta area.  He is someone Mr. D has always wanted to see and he was going to be in Hickory on New Year’s Eve.  When Mr. D was debating upon whether we should go or not, I asked him, “If not now, when?”  We celebrated New Year’s Eve with James Gregory.  I would say he is in his 60’s and his humor would be something that people in my age group would enjoy more than the younger generation.  We laughed a lot and I truly enjoyed the show.

One thing that hit me like a lightning bolt was his observation about the continuing change in the climate and attitude of the people here in the USA.  He said all of the anger and frustration started when we lost our joy for food.  Now, we analyze everything and blame restaurants or food manufacturers for so many of our frustrations.  He related how we have the power to not purchase anything that might effect our health.  I have been doing that for 15 years as it has been that long since Mr. D was diagnosed with diabetes.  He also talked about how we have changed our ailments into diseases.

That made me think and I remembered how happy my Mother and Daddy was so happy to bring home groceries every week.  They were depression kids and I am sure they did without a lot of different foods growing up.  They were excited, happy and pleased to bring home food and be able to feed their family.  I think of my grandmother and her excitement over a new product she found in the grocery store that was convenient.  I am sure growing up on a farm in South Carolina there wasn’t many convenient foods to prepare.

So, I came away from seeing James Gregory thinking that maybe there was some truth in his humor.  I want to share the joy of southern cooking and living with you in this blog.  I can’t change this blog into a healthy blog even though I try to prepare healthy meals.  I can only share with you the foods I am passionate about.

pancakes

The recipe I am sharing with you today is from the Southern Living Magazine, November 2015 issue.  The pancakes look lite and fluffy and a little crispy around the edge.  They remind me of Cracker Barrel pancakes and which are my all time favorite pancakes.  This recipe was developed by Southern Livings Test Kitchen’s Pam Lolley. They named then in honor of Pam and thus they are Pam-Cakes. This is definitely going into my “Things I must make” recipe file.  As Mr. D and I spend quiet Saturday mornings at home during the winter season, I may surprise him soon with these wonderful pancakes for breakfast.  No guilt in doing that as we always go to the gym after eating breakfast.  HaHa!!

I am thankful for comedians that make us laugh out loud and at the same time helps us to understand the many changes that occur in our lives. I hope you are enJOYing your food and thanks so much for stopping by.

New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t For Me But Northern Beans Are A Favorite

As I have a business background and worked in corporate America for a long time, I have heard of goal-setting and how to attain goals many times.  I decided a few years ago to abandon New Year’s resolutions.  I want to strive to do better and be better every day.  I always want to present positive thoughts on posts on my blog so that would sort of be a New Year’s resolution but it has always been a goal of this blog.

Today, I am sharing thoughts on how I want to improve and one way is to use recipes I have used for years but amp them up a little bit by changing the ingredients or adding different spices to the mixture.  I have started preparing northern beans for us over the last few weeks and I am going to share how I have made them more tasty:

8 ounces of dried northern beans

Of course the first thing to do is soak the beans and rinse them as is usually directed on the package.

Add chicken broth instead of water as the liquid to prepare the beans.  I try to have enough liquid to just cover the top of the beans in the pot. If I don’t have enough chicken broth, I will add water to reach that level.

I add the following to the beans:

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of oregano

1/2 teaspoon of basil

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder.

The beans can be simmered on your stove top or cooked in a crock pot. As you can see, there is no oil in these beans and we enjoy them with only the seasonings.  However, I have drizzled a small amount of a good olive oil over them when we are ready to eat them and that makes them even more tasty.

Last year I made a file on my computer of “Things I want to make.” I would refer back to that file from time to time and I prepared everything except Bananas Foster.  I will make that soon even though Mr. D is afraid I will burn down the house.  Having the file to refer to saves time when I am wanting to prepare something special or a little different and can find something quickly in the file.  When I am writing my posts I will refer to my “Things I want to make” file and that helps me to set a goal of preparing the recipe sometime in the near future. As this isn’t a cooking blog, I do not prepare every recipe that I share with you.  I am sharing Southern traditions and a large part of our Southern traditions is food.

I will work smarter in the kitchen this year and not harder.  I always like to prepare new and different recipes; however, I want to make sure I include recipes and favorites that we have eaten over the years. I will go through my menu planner (yes, I do plan my menus every week and I always have) and make a list of dishes that I want to make sure we have in 2016.  I keep that list with my menu planner and I can refer to it when I can’t think of anything to put on our menu.

As far as my blog is concerned, I want to share the foothills of North Carolina with you and my experiences of growing up and living in the South.  I always feel I fall short in sharing pictures with you.  That would be a goal I set for myself every year and I want to take the time to share pictures of where I live.

I hope you will file my Northern Bean recipe in your “Things I want to make file.”  I know there are many theories on why we eat beans and greens as our first meal of the New Year.  I will still say that I think the cooks were just tired of cooking from the holidays and that was the easiest thing for them to make.

Happy New Year Y’all and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you.

 

Appetizers for New Years Eve: Sausage Balls, Barbequed Franks, Fruited Cream Cheese Dip

As New Year’s Eve is approaching, I wanted to share three recipes that have been part of our celebrations for years.  The sausage balls are great and I can remember having them even as I was growing up in the sandhills of North Carolina.  By the way, they freeze very well if you want to serve some and save some. The barbequed franks are a family favorite and we have them many times during the winter months.  The fruit dip is a special occasion dip and very easy to make.  The first two recipes are from a brochure of recipes that I collected during the very early years of our marriage.  The fruit dip recipe was clipped from a Southern Living Magazine when readers submitted recipes to the magazine for publication.  That was one of my most favorite parts of the magazine when I started subscribing to it.

sausage balls fruit dip cocktail franks

The currant jelly for the barbequed weiners is sometimes hard to find and you may substitute grape jelly.  I am wishing for you a very prosperous and Happy New Year.

Thanks for stopping by.

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