Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Canoe

Summer's here I paddle,
I paddle my canoe,

She takes me far and clean and swift,
traversing rivers blue.

The dip,
the dip my paddle makes,
she cuts and turns and flows,

cross valleys deep,
my canoe she goes.

(Copyright 2009. Daily Decadent.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oopsy Leaves for England

"Oopsy, you know when one goes traveling, it is customary to send postcards back home. Would you like to send a postcard to your family before you leave Canada?"
"Ohhh yes, please. What should I say?"
"Well, say briefly where you've been. Anything interesting. The weather."
Dear Family,
Am having a wonderful time, wish you were here.
Love Oopsy.

"How's that?"
Well...try adding a little more.

Dear Family,
Despite this being Canada, this is the only real wolf I have seen. But that's okay, 'cause I saw and did a whole lot of other stuff.I learned to sew shhh!.. lingerie! Mrs. Decadent Housewife let me pick out material from her stash and made me a sundress.
I helped wrap presents and
decorate for a bridal shower of a girl they call Roll Kuchen. She is going to marry one of the wolves. And it's true, Mennonite girls really can cook.
I ate a lot of Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake and baked iced buns called Pan which originate in Mexico.
Decadent Housewife says she will find out how to make Pan and let us know. And I drank Raspberry Cordial and stared at a cute boy they call Med Student Friend.I rode along the shores of one of the Great Lakes - Lake Erie and the Detroit River in a smarty pants car - saw the Ambassador Bridge between Canada and the U.S.A. They all drive on the wrong side of the road over here.
On the summer solstice, Decadent Housewife and I watched the sun come up across the fields.
Mrs. Decadent Housewife and Mr. GG took me out for ice cream to one of the last original carhop roadside eateries in all of North America - Dairy Freez, in Northridge, Ontario since 1954.
Am having a wonderful time, wish you were here. Miss you.
Love Oopsy. xo
PS. Mrs. Decadent Housewife says I'm off to England next and showed me on her desk map.

"How's that?"
"Perfect. Goodbye Oopsy. We will miss you."
"Goodbye and thank you Mrs. Decadent Housewife. I will miss you, too."

(We've had great fun with Oopsy. Thank you to everyone who left comments offering to host the little bear next. Continue to follow Oopsy over at Margaret's Ramblings.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Decadent Housewife Bakes a Wedding Cheesecake

Ta Da! See what Decadent Housewife made? This was for Saucey Chef. A precarious thing to do, I suppose - me baking a wedding cake for a real chef. Saucey married in Australia and this was the later Canadian celebration. Well, Saucey is a gracious lady (I also didn't tell her.) I didn't really think anything could go too too wrong. I mean, how hard, can it be? Bake a cake, stack it, stick some roses in the top. Done. But then, we saw what happened to the prom vest. Well, I overheard the owner of the tearoom ask Saucey where she had gotten her cake and everyone said they really enjoyed it. Ta Da!
It's the first stacked cheesecake I've done. Actually, my first stacked any cake. If I can do it, so can you. I've made single layers before and depending on the weather, I did or did not pipe a lovely shell pattern around the perimeter using the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. This cake was made on an unusually hot day in spring. I could see that the icing would not pipe without chilling right down and I didn't have time for that. I still had to do flowers for the cake top and corsages and boutonnieres.
The caketop is a dozen roses, some red, white and a single pink. I nicked off the stems leaving the bump below the calyx and a bit of stem. A wire was pushed through the bulbous part of the stem and then both wire ends pulled down together forming the new "stem." I then wrapped the wire with floral tape and then floral taped all the stems together. The little bouquet was then stuck into a holder made specifically for such a purpose.
For those in Canada, I found the cake flower holder, cardboard cake rounds, wooden dowels and pretty lace doily all at a Bulk Food store. The wire came out of GG's Shop From Hell and I had the floral tape but both can be purchased from any florist. Measure the height you want the dowels and score and cut with a very sharp knife. Then smooth off the cut ends by pushing them around a bit onto a hard surface. Most people would use little pillars or wineglasses to hide the dowels and stack the cake but I didn't want anymore of the cake and berries disturbed than necessary so I simply sunk the five dowels into the cake positioning them to support the top layer between the berries. Then I covered the exposed part of the dowels between the layers with a bit of wired ribbon. Easy.The cake recipe for this is each of my Daily Decadent Cheesecake and White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipes doubled. I wasn't sure how much batter I'd end up with and therefore planned to keep the cake batter about an inch from the pan tops. Had there been more batter than that, I was prepared to leave it off. As it was, it worked out perfectly. However, much to the pleasure of the wolves, there was about two cups of icing left over.
I should have used a bain marie - a water bath wherein the pans are set into another pan containing hot water going up the cake pan sides no further than two or three inches. But I'd loaned out my pan to One Old Man. You can see that the cakes were browned and rose up looking wonky and beneath the icing of the large cake is a huge crack. It didn't much matter because I was frosting them anyway. However, a bain marie will eliminate the uneven cake top, browning, cracking and souffle head.Last week I baked two more single layer cakes, one for Roll Kuchen's bridal shower and one for Father's Day. I used a heavy stainless steel frypan for the hot water bath. It looked goofy but worked. For the bridal shower I used a ten-inch cake pan which made a more shallow cake but I wanted it to serve more people. For the Father's Day cake - the photo you see above - I used an 8-inch pan and the cake was taller and the wolves howled with delight. You can also see the difference in using White Chocolate Frosting which has been made the day before, completely cooled down and then allowed to come back to room temperature. It really spreads on well and thick.For Saucey's Canadian wedding cake, with the batter doubled, I used 10-inch and 6 inch pans and the cake was tall and looked substantial when sliced. While the wedding cake took a double batch of frosting with some left over, a single batch of the White Chocolate Frosting was exactly enough to cover both the 10 and 8 inch cakes I made this past week.

The bake times for all these pan sizes was 350 F for 50 minutes then the oven shut off and the cake left to sit in there for an hour. After that remove the cake, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Be careful if you cover it with aluminum foil since if the foil touches the cake top the acids in the food, will eat through the foil. Icky boo big time.Once frosted, cover with preserves. I pushed pure blueberry preserves through a strainer. Then covered with some fresh blueberries. Any fruit would do. For Roll Kuchen's bridal shower and GG's Father's Day cake I increased the lemon in the batter to a whole lemon rather than just the half called for in my recipe. I did this mostly because I didn't want a half lemon hanging around in the fridge. The cakes tasted great and there was no change in texture or consistency.
The wedding cake rode unstacked, to the tearoom. Decadent sat in the backseat of Fun's smarty pants old guy's car juggling the cake dish with the bottom layer and shifting around the box holding the flowers, every time Fun turned into the noonday sun. Fun's BFF sat in the front seat holding the cake top layer likewise dodging the sun, lest the icing begin to melt. I used double sided tape to make sure the carboard disc didn't shift around on the glass cake dish. A sensible mini-van would have been better for the transportation part. But since they were all being occupied either at the auto-mechanic's or transporting people, you take what you can get. I imagine things like this probably never happen to Martha Stewart. Ever.

Upon arriving at the tearoom, I plunked the rose bouquet into the top layer and Fun's BFF and I ran into the tearoom carrying the cakes and assembled them easily on the main table. The bottom layer served 22 people and Saucey Chef and her beloved got to take the top layer home for themselves. I would do it again, only, I'd make the icing a few days earlier and maybe skip doing all the flowers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Snail in the Herbs

The morning after getting home from Jack Miner's, I took a walk about the dewy garden and saw this. I am ever amazed at the variety of little creatures out there.
Appropriately, the snail was in the herb garden. Nevermind the weeds. Like cooking, gardening too, gets pushed aside when there is sewing.
He didn't like it when I pulled some foxtails and quickly moved up the pot and down the drain hole to safety. He didn't have to worry. Despite the proximity of garlic and chives, I don't eat escargots and The Cat, although curious, indicated she doesn't either.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oopsy On The Go

Oopsy accompanied Decadent Housewife to The City today - Windsor, Ontario - and got to meet the final wolf, Speedy.
"Speedy! Speedy! Violinist said you would take me for a ride on your bicycle! Do you like my new dress?! Your Mom made it for me! Buff let me pump iron! Fun is soooo much fun! Where's your bicycle?!"
"Slow down, little bear, take it easy, take it easy. The bicycle is only for Froggy. Only Froggy gets to ride up front." We decided to enjoy the sweltering heat and walk down to the Detroit River - you can see Detroit City behind Speedy and the two new friends pretended to fall in. Oopsy has caught on to these wolves and just laughed.
Although it was only afternoon, people were already sitting in shade with their coolers waiting for tonight's combined July 1st and July 4th fireworks, celebrating the births of our two countries, Canada and the U.S.A. The river tonight will be filled with watercraft and the sky over the water filled, absolutely filled with fireworks.
We got back to Speedy's house and were enjoying refreshing popsicle's when Oopsy said, "Speedy, you know, I've been traveling around the world. I'm from Australia."
"Yeah, I could tell. You sound like Saucey Chef's Beloved."
"Speedy, I know I just met you, but it's time for me to be moving on. Would you do me the honour of choosing a name from the bowl?"
And Speedy did and Oopsy will now be packing her cardboard box and flying off to Margaret's Ramblings. England. Oh Oopsy! You lucky little bear! Margaret, send me an email to dailydecadent at yahoo.ca and this little bear will be on her way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oopsy Visits Jack Miner's

Violinist needed a ride into work Monday morning as it seems the smarty pants car is acting up.
"Wake up Oopsy, we're going for a nice drive down toward the lake."
So off we went early early, as the fog still lay on the fields. The first day of summer is a wonderful feeling. Roadsides are blooming with Elderberry, Red-winged Blackbirds sing along the ditches clinging to the cat-tails.
It may have been the first full day of summer but the morning air was quite chilly and we needed to put the heater on. My thoughts were upon the young man to my right. Not too very long ago a sweet little boy.
Violinist commented between bites of Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake, "The bear is quiet this morning."
"Hmmm. I think she's all done in with all the partying over the weekend."
Gentle. Contemplative. Sensitive. Considerate. So, so utterly discouraged when he thought he had no talent. And then the absolute explosion of joy and focused purpose, when he realized that he could play music. We never once suffered a stray note.
"Do you want a banana?"
"No the cheesecake is enough."
"I think I ate too much cheesecake," offered a small tired voice.
"Well, Oopsy, sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. I think I saw you nipping a little extra raspberry punch with Med Student Friend, too."
How I will miss these little conversations and odd quiet moments together - usually a ride needed into work or back. It has been a wonderful time. He has given me so much joy as a son. Running up the side of a Carolina mountainside, "These are for you Mom" - a little fistful of wild violets.
"Do they have real wolves here?" We pulled off to the side of the road. One lone little songbird perched atop the sanctuary sign.
"No, Oopsy, there are only birds here. Look there is the duck pond. It has a guardrail making it harder to get a pretty photo from here. Fun fell into the duckpond once when he was about two feet tall and not long after that we noticed the surround went up - you're a lot smaller I'll put you in my pocket, okay?"
"My dad used to bring us here every Sunday in the fall "to feed the geese." That's October and November for us here in Canada, the best time to see the geese. He would give us each a cob of corn and we'd roll off and toss kernels to the birds. My brother always tried to...oh nevermind. He was a boy, so just use your imagination."

"Mr. Miner was a conservationist ahead of his time and now there is this lovely place to come and visit and the birds know they can land here to safely rest while on their migrations. In the fall the field back of the sanctuary sign is filled with thousands of honking geese."
While we have been enjoying Oopsy's company, courtesy of Caroline, away down under, Oopsy is ready to climb back into her cardboard box and resume her world tour. If you would like to enjoy her delightful company in your home, leave a comment in any of the Oopsy posts before Wednesday and we will draw names then to see where in the world that will be.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Life Lessons at the Sewing Table

"Be careful, Oopsy, you'll get your fur caught in the flywheel. Things that spin are dangerous, flywheels, potato diggers, augers, power take-offs - any kind of machinery, really. Once moving it's very hard if not impossible to stop and you can easily get caught in it and taken right along, no matter what."
"You really were a farmer."
"Uh huh."
"Mrs. Decadent Housewife"
"I have a question."
"Uh huh."
"Why is your name Decadent Housewife?"
"Uh huh - knew that question would come up some day...careful, don't get your fingers near that needle...well, a long time ago some men, wearing pointy hats were upset that I thought for myself."
"Pointy hats?"
"Yeah...supposedly wise men in leadership...look, Oopsy, just remember this. Just because someone believes in God and joins a church, doesn't mean they are to let others do their thinking for them, even men in authority. Listen to what they say. But always think for yourself. My children were being hurt, not in any really awful way, but being hurt just the same and it was ignored."
"Those big wolves?"
"Yeah - those big wolves."
"Yeah that's what I said too, hmmm."
"The pointy hats ignored what we said was happening and why we left their group and instead said I was very very bad for originally being hesitant to join their group and very very bad for leaving. And that's why I started calling myself Decadent Housewife. According to them, I was just a housewife and a very wicked one at that. Anyway, I'm sorry you have to learn these things when you are so little. Look. Let's go make some tea and I have a bit of fruit. We'll sit out under that maple and I'll read you a story and we'll watch and listen for birds. Would you like that?"
"Yes. Thank you."
"You're welcome."
Oopsy Bear has been visiting us here for a week now at Daily Decadent, away down in southern Ontario, Canada. As you can see she helped in the sewing room making something special for Roll Kuchen. And the rest of the time she was busy with me feeding wolves, baking buns and blueberry cheesecakes, having fun at Roll Kuchen's bridal shower and swinging in the hammock.

If you would like Oopsy to come visit in your home, leave a comment and by Wednesday we will draw names to see where in the world she travels to next. Oopsy's home and heart are in Queensland, Australia: http://caroline-thesimplethings.blogspot.com/