Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Little Catch Up and Colorado!

Hi all!

It's been a bit busy here. But never fear, I'm updating!
(Maybe next time it can be twice in the same month. Gasp!)

Okay, catch up time.

On the writing front:

  • Got feedback from my querying. Rejected from all. But had a full request and a partial request and am gleaning the gold which is personalized feedback. (Huzzah!) The good thing is most of the feedback said the same thing- Beginning is too slow.
    What does that mean for me? Means more work and more revising. But I'm going to let that MS sit for a few months to get some distance before I tackle it again and decide on what to revise.
  • Our local college here is offering a summer course on Creative Writing from June to end of July. I'm going to take it. Always a good idea to sharpen the sword, as they say. 
  • I've ripped up a WIP (only 12k words) that wasn't going anywhere. I tried to keep at it, but I hated it. Anyway, I kept only the names of my hero and heroine and now have a brand new plot, new setting, and stronger ending and I'm happy. (Yes, as a former pantser, I now plan it out. And yes, it's written by hand in a special notebook.)
  • This Fall I'll look at my other MS that's a fantasy romance. I'm brewing up ideas and may decide to scrap the 70k+ words I already have to rewrite the whole dang thing. We'll see. Not going to worry about it right now. 

On the home front:

  • Laundry piles up when I write so I'm working on that. I'm trying to learn to enjoy the sounds of writing to the sloshing of the washer. (still not 311, but it's good white noise)
  • Have to do a new diet. Doctor said if we want to try for a kiddo, low to no carbs. So that's been a challenge.
              - May or may not have thrown out a disgusting porridge this morning.
              - Found out I like chia seed puddings.
              - Dinners are the easiest meals. Breakfasts are hard. (I blame France for creating my bread addiction! I'm a toast girl too, so same to you, England!)
  • Mr. K and I are doing Tai Chi together when he gets home from work. I like it. Reminds me of dance in the holding of your body (butt tucked!) but yet, soooo slow. And then there's my Thursday yoga too. 
  • We've hired the help of a trainer for Mochi and her barking/fear of other dogs/running to greet people at the door and barking. I'll let you know how it is. So far all we know is she'll do anything for string cheese. So that's good.
  • Subbing is going well and I like Middle School. They're the most fun. 
On the fun front:
  • I surprised Mr. K with a trip to Durango, Colorado for his birthday last month. Here are a few of my fave pictures!

Crossed from New Mexico into Colorado!

Chimney Rock. Anyone who's played The Oregon Trail knows this monument.

Once we got to Durango, I surprised him with another thing. Friends! (The E family couldn't make it, so it was the B family) Mr. K was very surprised indeed and I think his jaw hit the floor.

We all stayed at the Historic Strater Hotel

Once the surprise was over, we went to the saloon.

This is one of my fave shots of Mr. K that weekend.

So dashing

The hotel outside.

We went for a stroll through Downtown Durango before dinner. Quite nice.

And now for some great statues and art!

The next day we had one last surprise for Mr. K. A First Class ticket on the Durango/Silverton Train through Cascade Canyon.

Our train car. We were in the caboose and it was so smooth. 

And now for the scenery. Just gorgeous!

We all got out onto the back platform for some pics.


And this one is one of my other faves. Post card worthy.

It was still chilly. As you can see by the snow/soft ice on the waterfall.

But the day was gorgeous and the temperature divine.

We got to Cascade Canyon and had lunch and got to look around.

Here's the engine.

And then there was this.

And this.

And of course, this.

What do those last three have in common?
I love water.
And rocks.

Moving on.
The trip back was lovely and I managed a few more photos before resting my eyes in the sun and light breeze.

The lake again.

Then the next day, after stopping off to get some bread at Jean Pierre's Bakery, we headed back home.

One of my fave houses from the drive back. Love a nice Victorian.

And this one's for my mom. Horses!

And before we knew it, we were back in New Mexico.

Land of Enchantment, indeed! 

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll have to post about Canvas and Cocktails and my sister's visit next time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dairy-Free Easter Cake

Hello all!

And I hope your Easter weekend was fantastic! I wanted to share with you a cake I made to celebrate with friends that tastes divine. And best of all, it's dairy-free.

Yes, all of you who are doubting me, you can make a dairy free cake that's still moist and delicious and have no milk in it (save of course some nut milk).

Here's my recipe and ingredient list:

Dairy Free Easter Bunny Cake
Makes 1 8inch cake round.

1 1/3 cups (300g) all purpose flour *
1 tsp (5ml) baking powder *
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup (113g) vegan butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons)
1 cup (198g) sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (119ml to 178ml) almond, soy, or rice milk (I used a Coconut Almond milk blend by Califa)

* Note: If you're in the mountains (7500ft), reduce baking powder to about 3/4 teaspoon and add another 1/4 cup flour. Also, use 3/4 to 1 cup milk until batter looks like it's not too thick but not runny.

Preheat the oven to 325F (165C). If in the mountains like me, preheat to 335F (170C).
Grease and flour your 8 inch round cake pan. Set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter then add sugar. Beat together for roughly 4 minutes or until light and creamed.
Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
Alternating, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix well, then add 1/3 of the milk. Repeat until all is added, mixing well.
Pour batter into your prepared pan.
Bake in oven about 50 minutes (I did 45 minutes) or until a toothpick, cake tester, straw piece inserted into middle comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool about 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling (I waited about 20 minutes).
Frost when completely cool.

All set?
Let's get started, shall we.

The usual suspects

Oh, before we do ANYTHING, grease and flour that pan! Then make sure to set your oven to preheat.

I used the vegan butter and flour to do this.

And I mean it should be pretty liberally greased.
When you're done it should look like this.

Okay, now we can start. Sift your flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

I love the look of sifted flour. Don't you?

Such fine texture!

Right, on we go. Pull out that mixer of yours, unless you have a hand mixer (I don't).
Beat your butter with your sugar. It's going to take a while, minimum 4 minutes of solid beating and scraping down the sides to beat again.

After 1 minute of "creaming"

After 2 minutes of "creaming"

After 3 minutes of "creaming"

Finally you hit 4 minutes and it's like the heavens opened up and allowed the "butter" to mix with the sugar.
I may or may not have danced for joy at that moment because now I could go on with the recipe.

Add your vanilla.

Beat it! Just beat it!

Add your first egg.

Whip it, now whip it good!

Add the second egg and do the same.

Okay, so we have the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Onto the flour and coconut and almond milk.

For this part you're dividing your flour and "milk" into thirds, alternating between the two and mixing well after each addition.




Once everything is incorporated and you've scraped things down from the sides, you can stop. It should look like a light yellow batter.

Um...excuse the mess. I forgot to put the guard back on and a puff of flour may or may not have come out.

Remember that pan of yours that you greased and floured?
Now grab it.

Pour your sunshiny goodness in a bowl into that pan.

Spread it out and we're ready for the oven which by now should be pre-heated.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a cake tester or a knife or a piece of straw (not from a dirty broom) into the center. It's done if it comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan until barely warm and then flip it out onto a rack.
Use your Matrix movie skills.

Smells so good.

Allow to cool COMPLETELY! It should be cool to the touch.
Then stuff it in the freezer for at least 1 hour; it'll make the frosting part of the cake MUCH easier.

I used this recipe, here, for my frosting. It's vegan and I love that it had apple cider vinegar and almond extract in it.

Okay. Once that frosting is made and then put into the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up again, take that cake out of the freezer.

Slice it in half, like so.

Then you're going to put the two flat sides together with some frosting. If you do it the other way, the bunny will look more like a straight stick figure bunny which is fine too, if that's the look you want.

Okay, with a sharp knife, cut at an angle a little piece out. 
And see those toothpicks? You're going to stick them into the piece you cut out and attach at the other end for a tail. 
I didn't yet in the photo because I wanted to show you where that piece would be going. 
Also...I had to trim some more off from the front and attach it to make the bunny's tail look less like a square and more like a tail.

Now you can decorate to your heart's content. I frosted it and then literally threw unsweetened shredded coconut all over the cake. The eyes are dark chocolate eggs I cut in half. And the nose is a Swedish Fish jelly bean.

The ears I printed out from the internet.  And then I dyed some sweetened coconut with green food coloring for grass.
Easter Bunny cake that's to die for!

Hope you enjoyed!

Until next time,

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