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Cardamom Cake + Orange Simple Syrup + Lingonberries + Honey Cream Cheese + Tresomega!

Folks!

Yet again, there have been posts few and far between, but here we are. Since my last post, we’ve been to Washington DC and Washington State, been on mini trips to Atlanta and Athens, and Iris got a little French Bulldog sister named Minya! Since it’s now the holiday season, and we actually got colder weather, I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm. And because I’ve been so eager to try out new ideas, I’ve entered and was accepted into a cooking completion for bloggers from Tresomega Organics for Life! There are several categories in which I’m going to submit recipes, but I had to start off with the baking category first, naturally! I can’t quit cardamom these days, and I really wanted to make a cardamom layer cake that would not only embody the holiday season, but be versatile enough to make throughout the year. Food blogs that take forever to give you the recipe drive me crazy, so I’m going to go ahead and drop it first, and then you can scroll through for photos.

Cardamom Cake with Orange Simple Syrup, Lingonberry Jam, & Honey Cream Cheese Icing

Cardamom Cake Ingredients:

(makes six 6 in cakes or three 8 in cakes)

1 C Tresomega Virgin Coconut Oil

2 C granulated sugar

4 large eggs & 1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 C milk

1 Tbsp orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 C all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Orange Simple Syrup Ingredients:

1/2 C water

1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 C granulated sugar

Honey Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

1 8 oz package of cream cheese

1 C unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp honey

5 C powdered sugar

+ Lingonberry jam (or any other jam you’d prefer!)

THE CAKE:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 6 in round cake pans with parchment paper, then grease and flour.

2. Cream sugar and coconut oil into a mixing bowl fitted a paddle attachment, or use electric mixers. Cream until light and fluffy.

3. Meanwhile, mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

4. Combine milk, orange juice, and vanilla into a bowl and also set aside.

5. Once oil and sugar mixture is ready, add in eggs one at a time, being mindful to make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into the sugar/oil/egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

7. Using a measuring cup, pour 1 cup of batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on how quickly your oven bakes. Remove cakes from oven, allow to sit in pans for 20 minutes, then turn onto baking racks to cool completely before assembling*

*I like to pop mine in the fridge or freezer to aid in easier assembly.

The Simple Syrup:

Combine all ingredients into a small sauce pan and stir over medium low heat until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge. Will last up to two weeks, sealed.

The Icing:

1. Using a whisk attachment, cream butter and cream cheese until fully incorporated without any lumps.

2. Add in vanilla and honey, mixing until combined.

3. One cup at a time, add in powdered sugar, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

Assemble the Cake:

Using a fork, poke holes all over cake layers. Brush simple syrup onto cake layers, allowing it to soak in before icing.

Ice the first layer with cream cheese icing, then place a couple of spoonfuls of lingonberry jam in the center of the cake layer, spreading it to an inch within the edge. Top with second cake layer and repeat. Place third cake layer on top of the other two and ice the top and edges of the cake. Garnish with lingonberry jam, orange slices, or gingerbread cookies!

The great thing about this cake is that you can change the filling to pretty much anything you’d like. I chose lingonberry jam because I liked the idea of a slightly tart berry against the warmth of the spice cake and balanced with the sweetness of the honey icing. I also gravitate toward lingonberries during the holiday season, but the cake would work beautifully with a raspberry, cherry, or rose petal jam, all of which would be nice for a springtime cake. It’s up to you!

I’m excited about this competition with Tresomega because it’s given me so many more ways to experiment with flavor combinations! I certainly don’t mind staying in the warm kitchen on these chilly days, either. ūüėČ Tresomega’s virgin coconut oil is really special, as it’s not only a healthy alternative, but it’s flavorless for those who are adverse to coconut (not I, though!). The texture of the cake is perfectly light, and I can feel good serving up a treat that’s won’t bog you down.

Want up find out more about Tresomega? Find them here:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tresomegafoods or @TresomegaFoods

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tresomeganutrition or @TresomegaNutrition

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tresomega or @Tresomega

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/TresomegaNutrition/

Ready to try some #tresomega #organicsforlife? I’ve got some more recipes in the works for you, so keep this page bookmarked and get to baking!

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Moons and Junes and Ferris Wheels

The last couple of months have been…challenging. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my Ro. After she left us, I was sick for a month and then Olivier, my little perma-kitten, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He was born with a congenital problem that made him stay small – around 3 lbs. But he was a sweet, fluffy three pound ball of love and we all miss him.

Now that October has arrived and the oppressive heat has finally abated, I feel energized and mentally ready to get back to writing. Festival season is in full swing, and the county fairs are quickly approaching. I spent yesterday afternoon judging the photography exhibit at one of them, and look forward to going back and taking my annual cliche ferris wheel photo while smothering myself in cotton candy. The evenings have been especially rewarding now that I’ve gotten the opportunity to throw at the wheel again. I am, admittedly, not the best potter, but I love it, and it’s fulfilling to learn new techniques.

By kismet, a Boston baby let me be her human, and I named her Iris Rose. Iris means ‘rainbow’ in Greek – a nod to Rosie being at the Rainbow Bridge, for the many rainbows I and her friends saw immediately after her death, and Rose – in honor and memory of my sweet girl. Iris is a sweet girl, though at 4 months old, she is teething and her mouth is full of tiny knives. She’s got a muppet smile, a lively personality, and is eager to please. She’s also a bit of a maniacal genius – a Boston through and through. It’s still hard without Rosie, though, and I hope that I can make Iris as happy as Robes made me.

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it’s hard being a puppy

I’m hoping to get back into baking this weekend, now that it’s not as brutal being in the¬†kitchen. My friend, Megan, of¬†Hello Bardeaux¬†shared a recipe for an apfel marzipan kuchen on Instagram that I am dying to try. Marzipan is my favorite candy ever, so I’m sure this will be delicious! I’ve also got to move around many of the plant babies and make sure the garden is prepared for these cooler temperatures. One thing is for sure – there will be plenty of gourds lining the greens!

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Smile a little smile for me

I’ve been composing this post in my head for over a week now, and it hasn’t gotten any easier.

We celebrated Rosie’s 10th birthday on July 25th, with a new shirt, a cookie, and a meatball from a local restaurant. She was still recovering from surgery – she had had mammary gland tumors and “old lady” warts taken off – and was getting adjusted to being on Lasix, as she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, common in pups her age. She awoke smiling, as always, and had a really nice day.

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Throughout the next few weeks, her breathing was still a little ragged, and she went to get checked out at the vet. Her sutures were removed from surgery and her doctor said she looked perfect, and that we had to give the Lasix time to work. The high humidity wasn’t helping, either. Rosie remained her usual cheerful self, barking at me when I arrived home from work and snuggling in bed for cuddles. She was even gifted a stroller to help her get around easier!

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Still, her breathing just wasn’t good. We are fortunate enough to be able to text and call her vet tech anytime, and my “sister” is one, as well. Everyone said to keep her cool, so we lowered the air and kept her near fans. It became difficult for her to eat, and I think that it’s like when you get a really bad cold -you can’t breathe out of your nose so closing your mouth to chew is difficult! We spoon fed her and used syringes to give her water when she wouldn’t eat or drink.

On Saturday, August 6th, my parents took her out for a Puppuccino from Starbucks, which she enjoyed. But she just wasn’t right, and I had hoped to take her back into the vet the following week. I came home Saturday night to stay with her and she had a really good evening. She ate everything I fed her, and settled down on the couch between my mom and me, resting and breathing fairly well. She awoke, coughing, as usual, the next morning, and went downstairs for breakfast. In the afternoon, I decided to take a quick nap and asked my mom if she’d bring Ro upstairs so we could snuggle. That was at 1:24 pm. At 1:35pm, my girl was gone.

As I texted a friend whose dog had also been diagnosed with CHF, I felt something wet beside me. Because Lasix is a diuretic, I figured Rosie had had an accident – which was to be expected. When I turned to her to tell her it was okay, it was clear something was happening. I jumped up and called her name, asking her please not to go, then screamed for my mom. While the life left her sweet little body, my parents came running up and my dad and I administered CPR, but there was nothing to be done. It is apparent that she threw a clot, and with CHF, dogs can die just walking down the street. While I knew that she wasn’t 100%, this was still fairly unexpected, shocking, and tragic. I’m still in shock.

I held her the rest of the afternoon, telling her I wasn’t mad at her and understood that this was what she had to do, and how much of a sweet and good girl she is. We napped for a few hours, and I kissed her soft cheeks, rubbed her little ears that had been chewed up in her former life in a puppy mill, felt the curl on her chest, took inventory of her cow belly, her snaggly teeth, her nubby tail. We stamped her paw print in ink, and wrapped her in one of the many blankets I smuggled for her off of airplanes.

She was cremated, and along with her ashes I received a paw print in clay and a lock of her fur. Her best friend’s mom, one of my best friends, found a vintage pendant on etsy for me in which I will be placing some of her ashes, and my friends at the jewelry store where I once worked engraved her name in pink on the back of said pendant, and attached it to a chain so I can wear her close to my heart.

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It is very quiet without her. She wasn’t necessarily a loud dog, but her joyful energy could fill the room. I miss her kicking me in the back at night, then throwing herself into my arm for cuddles and smiles in the morning. She was truly happy each and every day. I miss seeing her burrowed under the blankets when I’d come back from my shower, and her scratching and yelling at me for attention when I returned home. I miss sharing potatoes and cherry pie (her favorite) with her, and watching her play with her Lambchop. Because she was rescued from a puppy mill as one of the breeder dogs, she came to me not knowing how to play with toys. It was the best day when she finally learned to do so, and from then on, kept all of her toys and treasures (socks, underwear, tissues, toilet paper rolls – even bags of toilet paper! -, etc) in her bed, pulling them out to play. I miss seeing her run into the room when she was ready for bed, and how excited she would be to try on her new clothes (she genuinely liked them), ready to pose for a photo. The only time she would pout was during her baths, or if I was out of town for too long. Her happiness spread to everyone. I had several friends who claimed to not be “dog people,” or “animal people,” yet they would ask to hold her or comment on her photographs. We tried to make sure her life was as full as possible, to make sure she was so loved and appreciated. Rosie loved her electric blanket, spicy snacks, her Lambchops and hedgies, snuggling, popcorn, being blow dried (even when not wet!), shredding toilet paper, naps, having her photo taken, her belly rubbed and chest scratched, going on car rides, and licking inanimate objects. She had me wrapped around her paw, and could have and do anything she wanted. Ro was the best girl, always well-behaved and eager to please. Mainly, she just wanted to love and be loved, and she excelled at both. I’ve never seen a little creature touch so many hearts. She came to live with me on June 1st, 2012, and I was so lucky to have that little girl let me be her mama.

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bathing beauty

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cow belly

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spooning with mama

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a meatball for my Meatball

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home

I know she’s at the Rainbow Bridge, but I miss her everyday and my heart aches terribly. There will be (and are) other dogs, other animals, but there will never, ever be anyone like my Ro.

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wild and free

Make Them Hear You*

What a strange past couple of weeks it’s been. Upon return from the Pacific Northwest, we were thrown immediately back into the swing of things, and it’s been non-stop ever since. Then, once the events in Orlando took place, I couldn’t find the energy to do much of anything, let alone post here. I debated talking about it, but I just couldn’t (and still can’t) really find the words. I’m sad and I’m tired. It’s heartbreaking to receive texts from my friends saying that they are “scared to be in their own skin.” I can’t imagine their fear, their tremendous sadness, and the anger. I, myself, am beyond pissed. There are days that I troll Facebook, sharing article after article, getting into heated debates with narrow-minded, bigoted, fear-mongering, hate-harboring maniacs, and then there are the days that I just want to retreat. Which is better? I’m trying to find a balance between being active in discussions, in furthering awareness – not just about LGBT rights, but women’s rights, tighter gun laws, better accessibility to health care and mental illness resources, etc., and staying calm, centered, and content. It’s a double-edged sword, I think. You can’t be involved and not have strong reactions/feelings, but you also don’t want to live each day in frustration. But to not have your voice heard, to stay silent, creates a different season of discontent – I can’t imagine not being proactive. That orange monster was two hours away from our city recently and, filled with seething rage at the thought of him possibly campaigning in our town, and I ¬†vowed to ignite another protest if that happens. We turned away the KKK 6 years ago – I’m ready for this ding dong.

In the meantime, what to do to stay sane? Once the afternoon is done, and the incessant dinging from Facebook notifications has ceased, websites from various news outlets closed, I try to retire to the outdoor world for a bit, even if it’s for only thirty minutes to an hour. Our garden has become a refuge. Even on the days where there’s not too much to be done – deadheading completed, plant babies watered, waiting for the next harvest – just sitting quietly is rewarding. When the world has lost its damn mind, there are these little creatures that pop up from the ground, full of life, flowers bursting with joy, and trees birthing new fruit – reminders that not everything is terrible.

I couldn’t, with peace of mind, keep writing without recognizing what has been happening in the world. This is not a political blog, but it’s a human one. I’ll be resuming with more posts about our trip, Rosie, gardening, sweet treats, and reviews soon.

To all of my friends and family trying to make sense of everything right now:

“Go out and tell our story.
Let it echo far and wide.

….

And tell them, in our struggle,
We were not the only ones.
Make them hear you,

Make them hear you.”

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* the title of this post is from the song, “Make Them Hear You,”¬†from the Tony-Award winning musical, “Ragtime.” It was performed by my friend, Russell Joel Brown, who is currently on Broadway in the role of “Mufasa” in “The Lion King,” at our dear friend’s memorial service over a decade ago. Jaime was a champion of equality and acceptance for all, and someone who made a tremendous impact in all the lives he touched, including my own.

Bostonland

So many Boston Terriers! While visiting Nicole in Olympia, I got to meet her two Boston babies,¬†Lucille Marie¬†and Kumba, Rosie’s BFF and boyfriend, respectively. LM is kind of a celebrity, having been on the cover of magazines and the winner of many photo contests, so it was a pretty big deal! She’s a feisty little fireball, and bosses her much bigger son, Kumba, around all day!

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Sweet Kumba!

Kums wears the most adorable bow ties-both pups are always in their Sunday best, and that day was no exception. Lucille even got a package of new dresses while I was there!

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Lucille & her mama, Nicole

Nicole and I made sure to dress appropriately, as well: Boston-themed clothing so everyone would know we were crazy dog owners when we went exploring!Surprisingly, only one person asked about our clothes – she inquired as to whether or not something was going on with our dogs that day. We replied that there is ALWAYS something going with them!¬†On our way into the city, we stopped at her neighbor’s house and found ourselves a Wee. Willie, aka “Wee,” is another Boston who lives down the street from her and who often spends time at her house. He is soooo cute – I’m going to go back and steal him!

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WEE!

During our trip to the¬†Farmer’s Market, we stumbled upon a craftsman¬†who forms displays out of metal. Not only was there a Boston, but a Basset Hound one, too! I would have gladly bought both, had I had enough room in my carry-on to take home.

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Needed this for my garden!

When we got back to the house, we were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of yet ANOTHER Boston. Moose, another of Lucille’s children, had come to visit! Moose decided he was going to hide in the laundry room, as he was a little nervous. The only pup missing that day was Lulu, Lucille’s daughter, who was at home with her family. Four snuggly Bostons in one day, though! It was almost too much to handle!

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Moose, a little Nervous Nellie

Naturally, we had to exchange Boston presents. Nicole gifted Rosie a super cute dress and shirt, and some socks for me! Boston Terrier owners will buy ANYTHING with a BT print on it. ANYTHING. And we will stop at nothing to get it all!

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presents for my well-loved rescue pup

When Nicole came down into Portland that following Monday, we got to stop in the best dog shop,¬†Lexi Dog, and got our babies a few items. If you are looking for the perfect outfit for your pup, they really have the best collection. I picked up a little t-shirt that I felt adequately described Rosie’s sentiments toward me on leaving her for several days.

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bad-ass Rosie

Now that the holiday season has arrived, we’re starting to collect little trinkets for our Boston friends. More importantly, we will be giving back to the shelter pups (and kitties!) who won’t get to enjoy the luxuries of presents, special treats, and warm houses. One cause that is near and dear to our hearts is that of our Instagram friend,¬†Booger Dawg. They’ve fallen on hard times and desperately need our help while stuck in the frosty Colorado snow. Please donate or send any items you can! Their GoFundMe account can be found¬†here. It’s imperative to remember that this could happen to any of us at any time, and we should always help when we have the resources to do so. Rosie and I hope you will join us!