Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hold On Magnolia

It's such a beautiful day today that I decided to push my work to the afternoon and take a little walk around the property.  

Everything is so green!

We have several huge magnolia trees, and the young leaves are a very nice vibrant green.

 Our front beds are 'bushing up' nicely.  I love this filled-in look!

I planted several astilbes this fall, and they're starting to spike up.

The Japanese holly ferns are setting up their spores...

...and the clematis, too, is setting up seed for propagation.  I think the clematis seed head is so beautiful!

The cardinals have long left their nest, so I removed it carefully for my collection.

It's quite small and comprised of leaves and twigs.

I heard an Eastern Towhee digging noisily in the leaves nearby.

Mother - or wife - watched anxiously from a low-hanging branch!

Meanwhile, it's the end of the nesting season for the bluebirds, but you can still see the old nesting material sticking out of the birdhouse.

I spotted some spiderwort.

It's a wildflower, but I'm very pleased to have it popping up amid my liriope.

Bosewichte, of course, supervised everything from his perch in the sun room.  Oh dear, we really need to clear off those old spiderwebs!

I've been picking rosemary for cooking...last week I made a rosemary-garlic brine (and later, sauce) for a delicious roasted chicken...

...and today I got to pick a magnolia flower.

They're absolutely huge!  They have an oblong protruding center with funny curled carpels.

Just one is enough for a 'bouquet'!

I played a little Magnolia Electric Co. in honor of my find: Hold On Magnolia

I bought more strawberries this week, and lemons, without any real recipe in mind.  I'm no innovator when it comes to cooking, rarely straying from a recipe, but I couldn't seem to find something that suited my needs.  I only had a few eggs left, too.  In the end, I sliced up the beautiful strawberries...

...and roasted them for 45 minutes at 300 degrees F, tossed with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with brown sugar.  I used three precious eggs to make lemon curd (recipe here).  But what then?  I didn't have enough eggs (or the desire) to make a heavy pound cake (5 minimum) or an angel food cake (a dozen!).  On a whim, I turned to Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible and found her White Velvet Butter Cake.  It used 4 1/2 egg whites, which I had left over from making ice cream last week. 

Her method is a bit antithetical to my normal way of baking.  Traditionally, of course, you cream the butter and sugar and add in your eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.  The 'dries' are mixed separately and then mixed into the 'wets', but just barely, because you don't want to toughen your cake by over-mixing!  Rose's way called for aerating your 'dries' and then beating in the butter and milk, mixing for an additional minute and a half.  A minute and a half!  Then you toss in the egg whites and vanilla in 3 batches, beating after each addition.  Surely this cake would be as tough as a brick!  I was already committed, though.  I was cautiously hopefully when I sampled the finished batter - light, frothy, and very tasty.  The cake baked up nicely.  To my delight, the 'crumb' was amazingly tender, and the cake was absolutely delicious.  I sliced it and layered the roasted strawberries and lemon curd.

I had some heavy whipping cream left over from last week's ice cream, and I was pleased to discover that the resulting sweetened whipped cream was enough to fill and 'frost' the entire cake!

It was really, really good.  Very light, and perfect for a warm spring day.  I mean...while it lasted. 

I decided to post this entry a little early because I have such a terrible backlog of photos.  And now...back to work!  Have a good weekend! 

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