Monday, December 11, 2017

National Poinsettia Day

In blogland, we vividly remember some of the blog posts we have read over the years. One that I remember is when Red Couch took us along on a Plant Farm Poinsettia Tour. It was fabulous, and it stirred some interest at that time. Now I love them!  I arranged this poinsettia with some pussy willows and branches for our dining room table last weekend. But I do have a question - although it looks healthy right now, does it need some sunlight to thrive? I'm thinking I should move it to my sunroom during the day. National Poinsettia Day is December 12.

Poinsettia History: 
The Poinsettia is native to Mexico where there is a legend that dates back to Christmas eve several centuries ago. In the legend, a girl named Pepita had no gift to offer for the Christmas services. Her cousin Pedro urged her to give a humble gift. On her way to church, Pepita gathered weeds. As she approached the altar, a miracle occurred: the weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. They were called Flores de Noche Buena, or “Flowers of the Holy Night” – now referred to as poinsettias.
Joel Robert Poinsett, an amateur botanist, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and founder of the Smithsonian Institute is credited with bringing the poinsettias to the U.S. in 1825. While visiting the Taxco area of Mexico, he became captivated by these plants and sent them home to his hothouses in South Carolina. In honor of him, December 12th is considered National Poinsettia Day, as declared by congress in 1851 – a day to enjoy this symbol of holiday cheer.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Tales of the Traveling Tote - Fall 2017

If you are here for the first time, welcome to Mountain Breaths! Today I am joining a group of talented bloggers to bring you our Tales of the Traveling Tote. 

We are honored and excited to have TWO new members!!!
  Jackie with Miss Madi K

Ricki Jill with Countess de Monet @ The Sketchy Reader

Miss Aurora (my tote) had a wonderful 2017, and was thrilled to meet several of her Sistas in New York City. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy our NYC video :-)
For some previous adventures, click here Traveling Totes Through the Seasons and Acadia National Park.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we attended a Cayuga Lake Wine Trail event. We were given our "kit" for the day. Two souvenir wine glasses, recipe card set, and a grapevine wreath so we could collect ornaments from the participating wineries. 
Life is certainly an adventure, and I wish I had my tote when I went on a bobsled in Lake Placid five years ago. I would have asked that guy with the camera to take my picture! I had to sign a waiver and almost bailed at that point. It was an amazing ride!

In October, we enjoyed a very special weekend in NYC. Our group of seven bloggers met for brunch at The Russian Tea Room located at 150 West 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave) in New York City. I wish we had a photo of all seven of us, but somehow that didn't happen. 

Mackenzie-Childs hosted a champagne and dessert party for us before we shopped and filled our totes.  For more on our New York City trip, click here. 
In the first photo of this post and you will see a rose on Miss Aurora. When I purchased the roses for our NYC trip, I asked Jenna @The Painted Apron if she would design a card that I could give with the rose. Isn't the card wonderful! 

Also In October, I went to the Queechy Lake in Columbia County, NY, the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Saratoga Springs with the Scoots (annual girls weekend). Our itinerary included a 60th birthday celebration for Maureen, a visit to Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, dinner at the Backwater on Queechy Lake and a day at Congress Park in Saratoga Springs.

My non-blogging friend Tami and her tote Miss MC la Mer traveled to MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora, NY to start my Christmas shopping!  Ha!
To thank you for following along with our adventures, we are having a giveaway! To enter your name in the drawing, visit Patti @ Pandora's Box.

To see what Miss Aurora's tote sistas have been up to, click on the participating blogs below.

Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Katie with Miss Daisy @ Preppy Empty Nester
Linda G with Miss Poppy @ More Fun Less Laundry
Linda P with  Miss Lola Life and Linda Life and Linda
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ "Pandora's Box"
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K

A visit to Buttonwood Grove Winery isn’t complete without saying hello to Melody, a Scottish Highland cow. 

See you again in March with more adventures! Hopefully we will have some crocus blooming by then! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cayuga Lake, Friendsgiving and the {Cookbook Winner}

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Our table was set simply with just a smidgen of holiday elegance. So blessed to have 14 family members for Thanksgiving this year. The leaf settings I made for the table at the end of September at my camp held their color and dried nicely. All I did was sew a few leaves together with embroidery floss by making an "X", and kept them between the pages of a book until Thanksgiving. It was a fun project on a warm September morning! Everyone enjoyed them. 
We decided to get into the holiday spirit a little early this year. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we attended a Cayuga Lake Wine Trail event. We were given our "kit" for the day. Two souvenir wine glasses, recipe card set, and a grapevine wreath so we could collect "sweater" ornaments from the participating wineries. The wreaths below are from previous years and each year it is a different theme. Each winery gave a wine and food pairing, and 

Had "Friendsgiving" with the Scoots on the Monday before Thanksgiving. What a spread! These gals are great cooks!  I made a Cider-Gingerbread bundt cake from the King Arthur Flour magazine. I learned something new...the recipe called for Boiled Cider. You can buy it from KA, but I googled and found out they buy it from a farm in Vermont.  All you do is boil cider until it makes a thick syrup. I boiled two quarts and ended up with about 1.5 cups of boiled cider. I also used the boiled cider in my apple pie filling that I made ahead for Thanksgiving. Yummy stuff! 
The winner of a copy of CAKE, I LOVE YOU is Susan at Savoring Time in the Kitchen!

*Thank you to author Jill O'Connor and Chronicle Books for providing a copy of CAKE, I LOVE YOU for this review.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Cake, I Love You (and Giveaway)

I have a recipe and a book to giveaway just in time for the entertaining season. "Cake, I Love You" by Jill O'Connor is a resource for decadent, delectable and do-able recipes. This book pretty much sums up my love affair with cake as I have a sweet tooth that I inherited from my mother and grandmother. I was offered this book to review, and I must say that the recipes in this book are all I would ever need for special celebrations and easy desserts for weeknights. One recipe that caught my eye is the Luscious Lemon Lake. This will be perfect for my upcoming gals get togethers.

Luscious Lemon Loaf
Lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil combine to give this simple cake real zing. Don’t be tempted to skip the lemon oil, as it adds a wonderful fragrance and intense lemon flavor that lemon extract can’t match.  Cold pressed from the zest of oranges, limes, or lemons, citrus oils are concentrated and fragile. They must be refrigerated once the bottle is open, but even then they don’t last forever.
Serves 6 to 8

1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 large lemons
½ cup (120g) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
1-1/2 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
3 eggs, room temperature
Lemon Icing:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
½ to 2 cups (180g to 240g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325ยบ. Coat a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with an 8-1/2-inch-by 15-inch strip of parchment paper so it covers the bottom of the pan and hangs over the long sides.
Put the sugar in a small bowl. Using a microplane zester, grate the zest from the lemons into the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is sandy and moist and fragrant with lemon. Set aside.
Cut the lemons in half. Using a citrus reamer, squeeze the juice from the lemons into another small bowl.
In a third small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the fresh lemon juice, (you should have about 2 tablespoons remaining; set aside for the icing.) the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on medium speed just until creamy. Add the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go. Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in the sour cream mixture. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating on low for a few seconds after each.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes (do not check the cake until it has been in the oven for at least 40 minutes, as it might sink in the middle.) The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the loaf, still in the pan, to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Grasping the overhanging parchment, lift the loaf out of the pan and set it on the rack. Cool completely.
To make the icing, whisk the butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and lemon oil with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Spread or drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.

For a chance to win a copy of CAKE, I LOVE YOU, leave a comment sharing your favorite cake or I'd love to know if you have a favorite pedestal to serve your cake on.

Thank you to Jill O’Connor and Chronicle Books/May 2017 for this beautiful book to share with my readers.

A winner will be chosen on November 27th.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

National Bundt Day at Mountain Breaths

Hello friends, 
It's the annual bundt day post, and this year it's a rich and chocolaty bundt cake from Susan Branch, served with whipped cream. Ice cream or plain is also good. How many bundt pans have you collected over the years? 

You may want to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee at this point. Ha!

I used the Bavarian bundt cake pan from Nordicware, and the cake stuck. Each time I have used it (three times) the cake has stuck. I don't have that issue with other bundt cake pans. Joe never complains. Oops, he said he is never washing that pan again. So, I decided it was time to write to Nordicware and ask for their assistance. This was their nice reply.

Hi Deb, 
The Good news is I think we can get your Pan to function perfectly  ๐Ÿ˜Š
The Bavaria is my personal favorite pan !

It sounds as though there may be a residue on your pan - It may be pretty much invisible.
Cooking spray (such as PAM) is the most common cause.
You will need to remove this. Fortunately it will come off and the pan will perform all over again :)

Liquid Dish Soaps will not remove the residue.

Here are the specifically recommended products
Erasing Dish Foam (Foam)
Power Dissolver (Spray)

Erasing Dish Foam - Generally found at your local grocery store
Apply the foam directly to the pan and let stand for 10 - 15 min.
Scrub thoroughly with a plastic bristled brush.

Cooking spray is the most common cause.
If you are using a pound cake recipe repeatedly you may also experience some sticking as they have a higher sugar content.
Over time an invisible residue can build up and start causing the cakes to stick.
The " Power Dissolver " " Erasing Dish Foam " will correct this also.

I am attaching a nice Helpful Hints and Use & Care for you.
Take a look it will help you make the Perfect Bundt Cake every time.

Please note the greasing recommendations ("BAKING" spray) and cooling instructions (10 min only)
These are the most common causes of sticking and cleaning difficulties.

Bundt pans are known for their release and ease of cleaning.

If you are still unable to get the pan to perform successfully please let us know.

Each year I enjoy looking back at previous bundt cakes

Well Happy Bundt Day all! A dear friend gifted me with these plaid items a few years ago, and I display them in Joe's lodge room when I'm not using them for bundt cake.  Here's the bundt cake recipe if you'd like to try it. 

I have one more bundt cake on my list for this year which I will bake in a gingerbread house cake pan.

Happy National Bundt Day! 



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