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Life’s Too Short – Eat Dessert Twice!

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By Gini Rainey

In case you hadn’t noticed, The Cookbook Junkie took a bit of a vacay during the last few weeks.  I am a structured writer – I always sit down to do my blog on Sundays following lunch.  If I don’t, well, it just doesn’t seem to get done!  But I was sabotaged by Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays this year.  So there you go.  Now, if you didn’t miss me, that’s ok, because I bet you’ve been busy over the last few weeks too.

A great gift that I recently received from my sister was a quart of whipped honey from the Three Bears Honey Company, which is located right up the road from my great grandfather’s homestead outside of Moorhead, Minnesota.  While Three Bears boast that they have hundreds of beehives throughout the Red River Valley, I like to think that this jar was custom made for me by bees that were visiting the old homestead to help me stay in
touch with my roots.  My sister also gave me a companion cookbook “The Buzz on Honey” that was written by Marcella Richman and published by Jumbo Jack’s Cookbooks in 2012.  This is a great book, filled with some amazing recipes that include the common ingredient of, you guessed it, honey!  It also features photos and information about the American, North Dakota, and Minnesota Honey Queens, as well as biblical references to honey.  All in all, this is a great regional cookbook that is loaded with a lot of sweet ideas.

It also has several recipes that call for peanut butter/honey combinations in their ingredients.  But, none of them can top the peanut butter cake that we enjoyed last night at Louie Jerger’s birthday party!  (Did you notice that great segue?)  I’m not sure if it was the great company, the great food, the great hospitality, or laughing our heads off while we played Cards Against Humanity©, but when that cake came out, and we dug in, you couldn’t have found a happier bunch of folks just about anywhere.  And I’m telling you – when Tena came back out a couple hours later with the cake and we all dug in for more, I decided right then and there, this was my kind of party – a double dessert party!  (BTW – anyone want my bathroom scale?  It’s sabotaging my new year’s resolution!)

Tena graciously shared her recipe with me, probably because she wanted to see me get back on track with my blog.  So to make her Texas Peanut Butter Sheet Cake, first preheat your oven to 350° and grease a 9×12 pan (the original recipe does call for a 15×10 jelly roll pan, but Tena used the 9×12 with great results).  In a large bowl mix together 2 cups flour, 2 cups of sugar (if you’d like to try using honey in this recipe, substitute ½-2/3 cup of honey for each cup of sugar), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.  In a sauce pan, melt together 1 cup butter, 1 cup water, and ¼ cup creamy peanut butter over medium heat and bring to a boil.  (Tena shared that she doubled the peanut butter in the icing – mostly because Louie LOVES his peanut butter!)  Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ cup buttermilk until well combined, then add to the batter.  Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 25 to 28 minutes – this time will need to be adjusted if you chose to use the 9×12 pan.

To make the peanut butter icing, melt ½ cup butter, ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky if you want to add some crunchy texture to the cake), and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and mix in 1 (16 ounce) box of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well combined and spread over the cake while it is still warm.  This is not a light weight recipe and will probably cause your bathroom scale to react the same way mine did!  But, it is a great cake to serve while having a good time with friends – so what the heck!  Life’s too short – eat dessert twice!

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Books

Reading the Kids Back to School

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By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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Books

A Good Pounding!

By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with jenreviews.com.  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: https://eguidemagazine.com/janies-cakes-finally-oprah-realizes-something-weve-all-known-for-years/ In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past: https://janiescakes.com/  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here: https://www.jenreviews.com/cranberry-pound-cake-recipe/.  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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