Thursday, November 26, 2015

Introducing Peacherryblue: Peach, Cherry & Blueberry Pies in Three Cake Layers

When I learned one of my Thanksgiving guests was going to attempt a turducken (a chicken in a duck in a turkey), naturally I thought I needed to have a complement on the dessert side.

Peachcherryblue a/k/a Triple Threat.

The problem: Cherpumple recipes (cherry, pumpkin, apple pie/layer cake) with fondant icing or buttercream frosting seemed absolutely gross to me. I just couldn't see investing the time and energy into a layer cake that I wouldn't eat.

So after several days thinking through which ingredients and cake pairings could work, I came up with what turned out to be a pretty fantastic fruity layer cake.

First layer was a little over full.

I love cherry and blueberry together. And I think peach and blueberry are a pretty tasty pairing. So picking the fruit was easy.

For the cakes, I went with complementary flavors: For cherry, I chose French vanilla; for blueberry, the choice (thanks to a co-worker) was lemon; and for peach, the inspired choice (and because Betty Crocker makes it available), was butter pecan.

Pretty messy without a springform pan.

The final piece of the pie was the frosting. I couldn't imagine a heavy, butter-based frosting. But I understand why people choose thick, dense frosting... because you need something to cover up flubs or bind the layers together.

Around midnight, before I had to be up to prep for the big meal, I found this sour cream topping, a fluffy frosting that did a fairly decent job covering mistakes, but wasn't heavy tasting or too sweet.

Plastic wrap to bind it.

It's hard to explain, but the flavors just worked.

Even the doubters (me included) had to admit it was a tasty combination.

So next time you're looking for a challenging dessert to wow your guests, try what my father dubbed Peacherryblue. You won't be disappointed.

More than halfway through, the structure started to fail.

Then total collapse. Still delicious.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Baby Shower for the Books

My beautiful sister is pregnant with twins and I had the pleasure of being one of three co-hosts of her baby shower. I mostly did invites (thanks Tiny Prints!), plus a cute doodle on the onesie activity...

My first diaper cake to promo the diaper raffle...

And the party favor: a Caramel Apple in a Mason Jar Kit...

Inspired by this post from The Gunny Sack and this one from Event Trender,  for the kit I purchased 4 oz canning jars (wide mouthed and regular for variety); cookie pop sticks (the lollipop sticks were too flimsy for apples); Granny Smith apples; wrapped caramels; Heath Bar bits and mini M&Ms; clear plastic treat bags; green ribbon and raffia (I think jute, hemp or any natural ribbon would work).

I then wrote out the instructions and tied them to each gift bag. I was delighted to hear that one guest went straight home and made her caramel apple. She's 4. But still... success.

This is how they turned out, so pretty for a fall shower (or party). The flowers really made the table pop, such a beautiful arrangement from one of my sister's friends. He did the flowers and gorgeous decorations for the whole shower.

It was a wonderful shower and the diaper raffle was a huge hit.

Look how many she got!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's a Wrap: 40th Market Season Comes to a Close

It's a wrap! Our 2015 Oak Park Farmers' Market season, the 40th, has come to a close.
For making this one of the best markets ever, I thanks go to:

All the vendors for coming each week (especially the ones who strived to come despite crop loss from torrential rains);

Flooding at Geneva Lakes

The hardworking market staff who make the market work each week both on the scene and behind the scenes;

The devoted members of the commission who help staff the market and develop/present programming and special events;

Friends of the market who help man the info booth, sell t-shirts and assist with special events including Corn Roast;

The new Shawnash Institute which is working to make the market more accessible to our low-income neighbors;

The commission's new community partners who've helped with those special events, especially new children's activities and Go Green Days;

The chefs at Eyrie, part of Robert Morris University, for cooking the delicious Stone Soup: A spicy black bean and kale chili and a creamy squash soup with shallots and apples;

Pilgrim Congregational Church for hosting the market on their lot and offering fresh-made donuts each week;
Rare chocolate donuts are served at special times throughout the season.
The dedicated Farmers' Market band players near the donuts and out front for livening up the market even if rain drives them into the church basement;

And you, the Oak Park area community, for your strong support (even on rainy days);

    We'll be back in May. Until then, if you'd like to volunteer or become involved with the market in some way, please reach out to me (I'm chair of the market commission) or the Market Manager at farmersmarket[at]oak-park[dot]us.

    Post was back dated to coincide with the close of the market. 

    Monday, October 19, 2015


    Today would have been my grandma's 100th birthday.

    My mother and sister recognized the occasion by placing sunflowers in the surf on a Pacific-coast beach. My grandpa would have been pleased by the gesture. He loved California.

    When I think of my grandma, I think of her wearing white gloves to every outing and her long silver hair neatly tied in a bun.

    I also remember her encouraging all her grandchildren to write. I learned later that she was a writer and a poet.

    Here's one of my favorites:


    Yours the hand that held me tight
    when first I learned to walk.
    Your kind eyes that smiled on me,
    encouraged me to talk.

    Yours the lips that kissed away
    each tear that hurt would bring.
    Your songs have made me dream of bells,
    the sweetest that could sing.

    Your praise, now that I am older
    and life success seems near,
    is still the sweetest praise
    I hope, on earth, to hear!

    Josephine Emily Phillips 

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