Monday, April 19, 2010

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake

Yeah.. you're lookin.
It calls to you,
for it is chocolate!

I thought I would share my secret recipe
for this family favorite
special occasion cake.
This is pulled out for birthdays and the like..
I made one this afternoon.
Want the recipe?

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake
preheat to *350

Dry -
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Wet -
1 cp brown sugar
1/4 cp vegetable oil
3 cps cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
3 TBS cocoa (heaping TBS)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks (reserve whites!)

Other -
3 egg whites whipped until firm
1/2 cp milk

Mix the ingredients in the wet bowl until smooth.
I use the warmth of the sweet potatoes to help smooth the sugar.

Now, I am old school. I use a spoon to do my mixing.
And I use a whisk for the egg whites.

Add slowly to the ingredients in the dry bowl. Add the milk as you go along to make the blending easier. Do not mix too hard or stir too passionately. You do not want the gluten to get all stretchy in the flour. It makes for a tough baked good.
So, easy does it. More folding than stirring.

Once the two bowls have become one
you can fold in your whipped up egg whites.
Fold nice and slow and easy.
You want them to retain their fullness
and their air bubbles
to give the cake a light texture.

Then into a Bundt pan that has been
greased well. I put mine on a baking sheet
to help disperse the heat in my
piece o' crap oven.

Then out when it passes the clean knife test,
flip onto a plate to cool, then get a kid to
smear the icing!
Mine was doing barn chores this time,
so I had to do it myself.

(ok.. I straight up lied.
I don't do the clean knife test, I eyeball it.
And I go by smell. As soon as I can smell the chocolate
I know the cake is just about done.
But I have made this one a hundred times
and know it's personality)

This cake is rich and moist,
but still light and not heavy.

It is wonderful!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Additions!

Yep.. your eyes are not deceiving you.
We have goats!
Who would have thought it.

They are wethered Saanen bottle babies.
Seeing as how they were born on April Fool's Day
they have been named Joker and Jester.
They are natural brothers, though Jester is a bit smaller than Joker.

Too sweet! I mean really.
And already they have become the highlight
of the place. They are Simon's new best friends
and the three of them run all about the place.
Simon likes the dogs somewhat,
but the goats are just better companions.
They want to be right by him
while he is out in the woods
and jumping over the dry creek.

But they have actual jobs.
They are to clear the acre or so
of absolute jungle that we have.
Honeysuckle, rosa floribunda,
poison ivy and oak and privet hedge..
the wretched, wretched, wretched privet.

They are starting in already.
No slackers here.
I figure that our property value will greatly increase
when the jungle is passable.
You know, we lived here over a year before we realized
that there was an old pig barn
out in that jungle.
I told you it was bad;
bad enough to hide an entire building!

Simon took some pictures of the canopy
now that it is really filling out.
I love Spring.

And this is the huge old tree that hangs over
the old smokehouse building that is
now doing double duty as the goat barn.
We are only using the smallest room for the goats.
Eventually the old heap will
get torn down, but for now
it is being a useful building.

And the garden is coming along.
These are the post holes for the permanent
trellis/fences for tomatoes
and other climbing veggies.
Look at how ruby red that clay is!
You can see how much the amendments (chicken poop and old straw)
have darkened it already.
I would love to try to make pots
and the like from that clay one day.

A big shout out to Spinning Spider Creamery
in Madison County, NC for the bottle babies!
Great cheeses and a stunning herd.
These babies are about the best you can get!
We are thrilled!

Poor little fellas.
We turned on their electronet today.
Our electronet carries quite a powerful punch.
They each got zapped HARD
and then bolted into their stall where it is safe.
The world just bacame a painful and scary place.
They do spend most of their day out and about with me,
but have taken to sleeping on the back steps.
That is a bad habit, so they
will live as goats are intended now.
Poor goaties.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Forward Motion...

Spring continues on
and it's forward momentum
drags us and the wee farm with it.
Just look how GREEN!!
This was the first winter where we lost all the green.
Usually there are warm waves,
but this year was continuously cold
with no reprieve.
As a result, we lost all our green.
It was as depressing as all get out.
But now it is coming back!
I am so glad.

And yeah!!!
The new garden is tilled and prepared and fenced!
All the tree stumps are gone and the clay has had
several hundred pounds of old straw
and chicken poo tilled in to it.
I began to lay out new beds
and then the storms came
and dumped several inches of water on us.
I am glad that it did.
I was able to see my new garden's
weakness before I put too much
effort in.
See that wall and collpased wall on the north side?
Well, water seeps, pours out from
under it and made a small
river that ran south through
the heart of the garden.
The solution..?
I need to dig a dry creek bed
through the heart of the garden.
I will create tributaries from various
spots in the wall where I saw the worst
of the water pouring under and guide them into
a main channel through the very center
of the garden and out the south end.
Conveniently there is already a low spot/hole
in the south wall that I can use.
I'll try to pretty it up with some rocks etc..
like a real dry creek bed should be.

My Gala apple is just blooming it's heart out!

And so are the strawberries!

The grapes that I rooted last year
and thought for sure were dry sticks
are actually grapes!

And some Jerusalem Artichokes are ready
to be moved into the new garden.
But where, oh where?
And I have a whole area that is
filled with Jersalem Artichokes
that I have to dig up and harvest and move this fall.

And the massive heat wave we had
this past week made my rhubarb bolt.
And by heat wave,
I mean it was in the 90s!!

I knew it was going to be a challenge
to grow it here. We are just too hot.
And now that I have shown you the
seed head, I can cut it off.

Yesterday morning this tree had no leaves.
It goes to show what a spring storm can do.
You could almost watch them unfurl.

This is also what a spring storm can do.
This yard needs to be CUT!
It grew to knee high overnight.
I am not kidding.

And here we have Sweet Husband clearing
the upper garden spot.
We hope to have corn and winter squashes
and pumpkins and chicken feed plants
like amaranth and millet and sunflowers up here.
So exciting!
I have been wanting these two
foundations cleared since the day we moved in
and to see them opening up
is thrilling.
I cannot wait to see what they will look
like in two weeks or so!