here and there

Friday, September 15, 2017

Princess Castle Birthday Cake with Butter cream

This year's birthday cake creation was a Princess Castle Cake with it's size based around being plated on a cake stand.  

The butter cream was one I had used for many years, but when it made, I wasn't sure if I would have enough to cover the cake.   I used a trick my Mom had always used for her layer cakes which was spreading jam between the layers.  It was interesting to hear those at the party reminisce on the use of jelly or jam between the layers after one of the guests won't eat the cake because of the jam.  This also lead to memories of money hidden in birthday cakes. 

Butter Cream Icing

  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1/2 butter
  • 1 T milk
Beat together, then add
  • 4 c icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Add more milk to get the proper consistency

The cakes had been frozen which makes it easier to apply a crumb coat of icing.  Again, being concerned about the amount of icing and that the party was that morning, I applied a thinner coat as I thought of the Naked Cakes or those that have minimal outer layer of frosting that are so popular presently.  I must say I did feel better after decorating this cake as I usually cringe at the amount of sugar and fats applied on the cakes as icing! 

Not only did my design revolve around the cake stand, it also had to be transferred to my son's home.  A long wooden kebab skewer worked well to hold the layers together along with the glue of butter cream on the plate and between the layers along with the jam.

My son dished out plates of hot croquet monsieur, a baked ham and cheese sandwich which disappeared quickly. 

The pink stripped marshmallows were a big hit as then everyone had a marshmallow. This was always a problem when I made cakes for my kids' party using marshmallows for Ernie or Bert's eyes! 

The best part was watching my grandchild examine the cake very closely and the thank you  after!  A success! 

The pointed cones were frosted and rolled in red sugar sprinkles.  Gummy bears had been placed inside the cones, but to my disappointment did not fall out as expected as even in such a short time, they had absorbed moisture from the cake and stuck to the cones.  It was still a surprise to the kids, although not as impressive if the candles had rolled out of the cones. One needs to use hard candies for this. 

The craft was an painting  a small canvas to take take home and a group effort to paint a large canvas for the birthday girl! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dutch Pancake

I forgot how easy this breakfast dish is to make.  It is alway impressive even if for just a few minutes before it collapses.  I had made it for my teenage sons but with only one Cast Iron, I couldn't keep up with their appetite and my Hubby's so I did not make it again until today. 

I have been making Claufotis which is similar, but more filling.  I have posted about Dutch pancakes before, one on Wild Blueberries and other on Maine Pancakes , not sure why I have not blogged on Claufotis as the batter is a little different.  

Today I used up the last of the BC cherries for this year.  Cherries are tradition for the Claufotis recipe but it worked well here.  

Dutch Pancake

  • 1 T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1/2c Milk
  • vanilla
  • 1 T sugar, opt
  • salt 


  • Heat the Cast Iron in a preheated oven of 425 degree
  • Whisk eggs
  • Whisk in the flour, milk, vanilla, sugar and salt
  • Add fruit to batter
  • Spray pan with oil
  • Melt butter in hot pan
  • Pour into hot Cast Iron pan
  • Bake 15 minutes
  • Dust with icing sugar

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tea Sandwiches , Tea Party for Kids

The last time, I made tea sandwiches was for my daughter's Bridal High Tea and I thought I would never make them again.  My friend who was helping me make the sandwiches laughed and said she always had a tea party with her three daughters. This was something I never did with one daughter.  My son asked if we could babysit while his wife was away for a week with her mother.   Although he was on holiday, he was still called in for meetings.   I thought a tea party would be a perfect solution for the all day babysitting.  

Since, I have lived on making lists all my life, even as a young girl, we started with writing a list of things to do for the party.  This was eagerly done by the almost 6 year old. 
With the oldest one going into Grade One, listening skills are most important and the planning and doing the Tea Party was a great way to work on this! 

First came finding the "correct" princess outfit but in the end, the snow white costume she has worn for many years won out!  The pink and gold dress
"hurt her eyes" LOL

The younger one wanted to try the dress on too!

Next came the picking out the tissue paper colours and decorating the pink straw hats with paper flower. 

Using a loaf of White Sandwich Bread, we made a variety of different shaped sandwiches.   

  • Mermaid Sandwiches with tuna salad, pulsed with a blender - Tuna Pate
  • Pinwheel Sandwiches with above tuna filling
  • Starfish Sandwiches with peanut butter
  • Flower Sandwiches with Liver Pate
  • Cucumber Dill Sandwiches with cream cheese
  • Radish Sandwiches with cream cheese
Naming sandwiches like Mermaid, Starfish, Flower did cause interest for a picky eater. 

My box of fancy cookie cutters came in most handy although we did need PopPop's strength to cut through the bread.  Rolling out the bread with a rolling pin would have helped, but just let say with one rolling pin, it was better to skip this step! 

Adding dried maraschino cherries to the top of Liver Pate certainly made this sandwich "very yummy" for the girls!

The proper way to hold the tea cup, with the pinky finger up was demonstrated to her sister.

"I'll hold my cup like this!"

To the girls' delight, PopPop joined the Tea Party!



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mixed Pickles

I have noticed mixed pickles on the net where the pickles have been arranged as a work of art and this year I came across a YouTube but in Russian.  I was able to get a chef in London translate the recipe for me. The wonders of Instagram!

Here is her translation for the Mixed Pickle recipe

Here you go!

the cauliflower, pattypan squash, courgettes and carrots she soaks in boiling water for 2-3 mins to soften them, as they are harder than the other veg, and need softening.

she soaks the garlic in hot water too, and onion, to make them lose some of their ‘spiciness'

The spices are, per 3 litre jar: 1 bayleaf, 2 cloves, two types of peppercorns (2 of the one that is more fragrant and 4 of the regular), pinch of mustard seeds

Herbs: currant leaf, horseradish leaf, dill stalks, 3 cherry leaves, coriander root, dill tops, horseradish root, fresh dill, lots of fresh parsley

she throws in one whole onion and 2 garlic cloves per 3 litre jar

Once all the veg is in, she first pours hot water into the jars, places the lid and covers them with towels, for 15-20 min (more is ok, but not less).
She pours out this ‘bouillon’ into a pot, puts it on the heat and adds salt and sugar. 
Per 3 litre jar: 100g sugar, 50g salt. 
Bring to a boil. 

While waiting for water to boil, she adds 90ml of vinegar into each jar. 

She doesn’t say how long she leaves them to pickle for but usually this is done in the summer, to be opened in winter. Keep in a dark cool place. 

With all the plenty of harvest, I wanted to make her recipe, even after visiting two farmer's markets, I still had to send out my husband for celery and parsley for this recipe.  It did take a while to prepare all the veggies as a variety of vegetables were used.  The Russian Pickle does use tools for fancy cuts which adds to the creativity of the display/ 

I also came across an Armenian Mixed pickle recipe which was in English.  In this recipe. the spices are a little different and she arranged her vegetables in her large container as to length of fermentation. The Cabbage and Cauliflower are place at the bottom as take the longest to ferment.  She uses a large container for ease of getting at the various vegetables to serve. 

The vegetables were similar but each did add a few different vegetables. The Armenian Mixed pickle had two beets added, one sliced for the bottom layer and another near the top. They were not cooked but only added for colour.  

The list of vegetables and order added for the Russian Pickle was;

Layer One
The follow dry spices were added to each jar

  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 whole Cloves
  • 6 Peppercorns
  • Mustard seeds

Base Layer

  • 2 current leaves
  • 1 small horseradish leave
  • Dill weed
  • 2 lime leaves
  • Handful of Parsley
  • Chunk of horseradish, about 1 inch piece

Press down on the base

Layers of Vegetables
Arrange in a decorative manner as you build the layers

  • slice a medium half ripen Tomatoe
  • Cucumber, large
  • Hot pepper to taste
  • Slices of bell peppers circles
  • Onion chunks
  • Carrots, julienne
  • Squash, Zucchini
  • small whole Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower Florets
  • Tomatoes small 
  • Hot pepper to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes, firm  
  • Garlic

Since my jars were smaller, I did heat 3 litres of water and followed her recipe for the brine

3 litres water
1/2 c sugar
3 Tablespoon pickling salt
90 ml vinegar

I did not soak the vegetables before hand, nor did I pour hot water into the jars and drained them.  Not sure that you need to do either of these steps! 

The spices used for the Armenian pickles were more in keeping with spices that I use for my pickles
After each layer the following dried spices were added generously.
  • Bay leaves
  • Peppercorns
  • Dill Seeds
  • Whole coriander
  • Garlic, whole but scored at the top

List of vegetables

The layering of the vegetables was as to time of pickling, the vegetables that took longer to ferment where placed at the bottom.  

In her video, Quarters of cabbage were added first
2 Beets, uncooked for color

These were the vegetables I used
  • Florets of Cauliflower
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Celery, cut in chunks
  • Cucumbers, leave whole
  • Hot peppers
  • Green Beans, whole
  • Parsley

I used the same brine as I did for the Russian pickles

I did have some tomatoes that I used and herbs for the base. I used horseradish, raspberry leaf, grape leave and dill weed from my garden.  The rest was bought from the Farmer's Markets.


Growing tomatoes is a Challenge in this area due to cool evening. I have started growing tomatoes in pots as love that there are no bugs, no weeds and easier to maintain! But other challenges exist, especially if your dogs like vegetables and fruit!