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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake



This is an old-fashioned cake that I remember my mother making. I am not sure if her recipe was the same as this one (this recipe is from Maida Heatter's Cakes, Cader Books, 1997) but it tastes just like I remember it. This cake is made in a cast-iron skillet (or you can use any frying pan or 12-inch pie plate). It is fairly easy to make and fun to put together. The hardest part is turning the heavy skillet upside down but the cake comes out easily. I would recommend placing a plate or cardboard cake circle directly over the skillet and hold it carefully when flipping it over. A helping hand is good to have available!

 Pecans are optional for this cake and you can arrange the pineapple slices and cherries (and pecans) any way you prefer. My mother never used pecans on hers and I decided to skip them as well.

The cake is very light and the pineapple flavor is intense. It is the perfect combination!

Topping

5 1/3 TBS. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple (packed in natural juices)
Optional: Pecan halves, cherries (either maraschino, candied or Bing)

Preheat the oven to 350.
A frying pan or 12-inch pie plate is recommended. Spray the pan with a nonstick spray.

Pour the melted butter over the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.
Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice, and dry the rings on a paper towel.
Place the pineapple rings around the pan in any pattern you prefer (there may be some left over). Place the cherries (and pecans) in the holes of the pineapple and in the spaces around them.
Set aside and prepare the cake.



Cake

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 TBS. drained pineapple juice
1/2 cup apricot preserves (for the glaze)

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat the eggs at high speed for one minute.
Continue to beat while slowly adding the sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale.
Add the vanilla.
Add the pineapple juice. Beat on low speed until mixed.
On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients, beating only until smooth.
Pour the batter over the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the pan immediately.

Apricot Glaze

While the cake is baking, prepare an apricot glaze by heating 1/2 cup of apricot preserves. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the glaze over the top of the cake.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Easy Peasy Fudge


I think this was the first time I have made fudge. This recipe is so simple and so good. I can't hardly stay out of it. You can make this without the nuts.

3 cups of  semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts

Spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper long enough to extend outside the pan. Place them in the pan criss-crossed (this will create "handles" that make it easier to remove them form the pan).

Place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and butter in a double boiler over a pan of shallow water on low heat. Melt the mixture, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Remove from the pan by gently lifting the handles of the wax paper. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

What a delightful treasure this was, hidden in a residential neighborhood! I had never heard of Elk Rock garden and stumbled across it on Trip Advisor. This was once a private garden owned by Scotland native Peter Kerr, who moved to Portland in the 1888. It is located in the Dunthorpe neighborhood and overlooks the Wilamette River. 

Kerr, along with his brother, owned and operated a grain business. They both lived in a cottage on this property until his brother married and moved. Kerr lived in the cottage until 1916 when he and his wife built a larger home. The garden was designed by John Olmsted, who also created Central Park in New York. The property was donated to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon in 1957 under the condition that it be open to the public.

The 13-acre garden features an array of shrubs and trees and a large collection of magnolias. Gravel pathways surround a central grassy area. An elevated pathway takes you around the perimeter of the property and up a hillside with spectacular views of the river. It is a very peaceful garden, a great place for meditation. There wasn't anyone there the entire time we were there, not even an attendant.


The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon


Two tired travelers!


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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