Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday's Recipes: Homemade Cakes

Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do -- can love things that no one else can love. We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music. You know what to do. ~Barbara Sher

Today I have some cake recipes from a 1968 Cake Cookbook from Favorite Recipes Press. Any of these would be lovely for a Valentine's party or dinner!

Apple Tart Cake

3 c. sugar
8 tbsp.flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups finely chopped tart apples
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside. Beat eggs until they are lemon colored. Add eggs, pecans, apples and vanilla to dry ingredients; mix well. Pour the batter in greased 9x12 inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cake rises, then falls; makes its own crust. Makes 8-12 servings.

Blackberry Jam Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. sour cream
1 cup blackberry jam

Cream butter. Add sugar and eggs; beat well. Combine flour, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Alternating sour cream and combined dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture. Add jam; pour into a loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven; cool on wire rack. Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate Upside-Down Cake

3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 cup nuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. butter, melted
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Combine all ingredients; mix thoroughly. Pour into 9 inch square pan.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. cocoa
dash of salt
1 1/2 c. hot water

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.

Party Coffee Cake

1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cup sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.soda
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter and 1 cup sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, then sifted dry ingredients. Add flavorings. Put half of the batter in well greased 8x12 inch pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 mixture of 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Add rest of butter and top with rest of sugar mixture.Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 20 servings.

Old Fashioned Cake recipes and tips on OFL:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home & Hearth: Feeding the Birds

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings. ~Victor Hugo

Birds have a tough time during cold, harsh weather, especially when the snow is covering their food and the insects are dormant.

The first thing to do is wash your feeders with a stiff brush and a solution of one part bleach to nine parts warm water. Rinse well afterwards and dry. Wet seed can really clog your feeders and it can grow bacteria. Another note on old seed--in the spring be sure to rake or sweep up the old seed and add it to your compost or waste pile. Once your feeders are clean it's time to fill them with seed and put them up.

Feeders that are on poles or stakes should be at least 5 foot off the ground and not too near trees, bushes, fence etc. They should be about 8-10 foot from any surface that would provide a place for cats or squirrels to jump from. Though you should have some type of bushes, trees or evergreens beyond that 8-10 ft. area that the birds can use to safely perch. Provide a few different feeders and you will have a nice variety of birds to watch.

Seeds that will really provide the best nutrition for the birds and a good selection of birds for you to watch will be black-oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, niger (thistle) and suet. If you want to limit what you buy, go with the black sunflower seeds. It will attract woodpeckers, blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. Cracked corn and seed on the ground, or a seed table or platform that is lower to the ground, will attract the mourning doves,juncos and bobwhites. If you have a tree stump you can put on a plastic pot tray, securing it with a screw or nail, and use that for a feeding platform. It's always neat to try different types of feeders to observe which ones are used the most and what birds are attracted to them. You can make simple feeders out of milk jugs, bleach containers, soda bottles etc. Always make sure they are washed and rinsed well.

Visit OFL to read about Chickadees in Winter:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Herbs 'n Spices: Growing Your Own Herbs

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens

There are so many herbs that can be grown from seed. Some herbs do better started ahead of time inside, others are easiest sown outside where you want them to grow.

This first grouping below can be sown outside or inside. Inside is recommended for a head start, especially in colder climates. I have found that calendula is just fine sown outside, because it flowers heavily until frost when some flowering herbs are finished. But if you want a headstart you can begin it in pots, and later direct sow more outside. I have found the same thing true when I grow nasturtiums. Starting herbs inside not only gives a headstart but you can baby the seedlings a little more.

Summer Savory (in peat pots)
Sweet Annie/Wormwood
Nasturtium (in peat pots)

The following herbs really need to be started inside. Some like chives and sage are inexpensive to buy as small potted plants, and available at almost all nurseries. If you don't have a lot of room to start seeds, it's easier to pick up a plant. Others really need to be started early inside and will save you quite a bit of money if you want more than one plant, such as lavender.

Clary Sage
Lemon Balm
Salad Burnet
Winter Savory

There are some seeds which simply do better when sown outside. These include:


Most of these herbs I've profiled on the garden section at OFL.
You can view the articles with growing tips here:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hodge Podge Day: Valentine's Fun

There is magic in long-distance friendships. They let you relate to other human beings in a way that goes beyond being physically together and is often more
profound. ~Diana Cortes

Today we have some lovely tidbits sent in by our readers. Long time subscriber Liz sent me this fun and easy Valentine's craft.

Paper Plate Valentines

a red paper plate (paint it red on the white side if it's
not red on both sides)
a red foil heart sticker
a white paper doily
a quarter piece of red construction paper
a heart shaped hole puncher
assorted sized, colored foam hearts (they come in a
canister at the craft store)
glue, such as Aileen's tacky glue in the gold bottle.
Elmer's as a second choice. Glue sticks won't do.

What to do: Stick the foil heart on the back of the plate in the center.
Take the tiniest foam hearts and glue them randomly around the foil heart. Punch heart shaped holes around the flat edge of the plate, randomly, with plenty of space between holes. Glue doily in the bottom of the front side of the plate. Cut a heart shape out of the construction paper and glue on top of the doily in the center. Write a message on the big construction paper heart, such as Happy Valentine's Day or To Mom, Love Me.

Write messages on a few of the foam hearts (like the candy hearts) and glue them around the flat edge of the plate in the front. We ended up using 12 hearts...4 of the larger size, & 8 of the next size down, set like clock numbers (the 4 larger hearts at 12, 3, 6 & 9) Glue the foam hearts on the edges of the plates, leaving a hole exposed for hanging when the glue dries. Hang it up
with a ribbon or string.

It sounds pretty involved, but really it's not. I expect to get a class of 18 first graders to do it in about 45 minutes, so 2 people should be able to do it in about 15! ~Liz

I love antique children's books and antique books of poems. This is a poem that I found in one, author unknown. ~Laura C.


A crumb will feed a little bird
A thought prevent an angry word,
A seed bring forth full many a flower,
A drop of rain foretell a shower!

A little cloud the sun will hide.
A dwarf may prove a giant's guide.
A narrow plank a safe bridge form,
A smile some cheerless spirit warm!

A step begins the journey long.
A weak head oft outwits the strong.
A gull defies the angry sea.
A word will set a captive free!

A hornet goads the mighty beast,
A cry of "fire" breaks up a feast.
A glass shows wonders in the skies,
A little child confounds the wise!

A straw the wild wind's course reveals,
A kind act oft an old grudge heals,
A beacon light saves many a life,
A slight will often kindle strife!

A puff of smoke betrays the flame,
A pen-stroke e'en will blight a name,
A little hand may alms bestow,
A message small bring joy or woe!

The widow's mite a great gift proved,
A mother's prayer has heaven moved;
"Then let us not," the poet sings,
"Despite the gospel of small things."

Reader Kathy J. sent in this lovely quote:

Time Is:
Too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love,
Time is Eternity.
~Henry Van Dyke

On OFL we have recipes for Valentine's Day beverages!

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Garden Tidbits

Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Today's tips are summarized from 10,000 Garden Questions Answered by Experts, published in 1944. These are fairly easy to find at thrift stores and on ebay, but beware that while they have fantastic tips,they also have some that should be avoided if they advise you to use chemicals. I shudder at some of the things gardeners were told to use such as arsenic,lead arsenate, bichloride of mercury and chloropicrin. So, if you take advice from old gardening books do be sure to use only the organic, safe methods to be safe.

Flowers for sandy soil: Portulaca, California poppy, annual phlox, calliopsis, cockscomb, morning glory,anthemis, milkweed, aster, babiesbreath, liatris and yucca. Add manure and fertilizer to the soil.

Soil that is hard and dry on the surface, but underneath is okay: Mix in sand and well-rotted manure into the surface soil.

What is the cause and remedy for soil that has a green moss-like growth on it? Many questions have this same type of thing asked in the book. Though many think it needs lime and may be "sour" the authors say it's really from poor drainage or lack of aeration and a lack of fertility. They suggest adding organic matter (humus, some lime, manure and nitrogen rich fertilizer) and cultivate the area frequently. Planting a green manure such as oats, buckwheat, clover, alfalfa or soybeans. It is then plowed/tilled into the soil.

Wood ashes: Contain potash and lime. Apply about 1/2 to 1 pound per rose bush in the spring. It's also good for most other plants, trees and shrubs. Work into the soil after growth starts in the spring. Store your wood ashes under some kind of cover (tarp,wood roof etc.) until you can use them in the spring. (obviously they should be cooled first).

Vines: Start Cup-and-Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens) and Moonflower inside 6 weeks before the ground warms. Plants seeds in individual pots. Set outside at tomato planting time. As with morning glories soak seeds over night then plant about 1/2 inch deep in soil which you've added bone meal and rotted manure if you've planted this type of vine in that spot for several years. Sow at the bottom of a fence, trellis or other support and space about 6 inches apart.

We have tips for growing morning glories on OFL: