Monthly Archives: July 2011

First Day of The Fair!

Hello Everyone,

The fair has started today and WOW were we busy! It seems to me like there was alot more people on opening today than there was last year… We had some good baking entires but the number is down from last year.. I only have 3 decorated cakes this year, compared to the 8 I had last year!  But the three cakes that did get entered were really great!  One is so cute it was made by an up and coming cake decorater she’s 15 and it was a monky cake! The judges loved it! She got 2nd only because she was competing against a 3-Tiir blue “Grown It and Show It Cake”! It’s also a creative cake! The one that has all the poeple ohh and aww is a cake made by one of our Community Cakes bakers Jamie! She made a 3-tier book cake with a wizards hat on top and she made a cute little green wizard’s helper! So far it’s the favorite!

I did win 12 1st place ribbons in canning and 2nd places! I am thrilled! It’s the first time I have entered canning in 2 years! WOW!! I did win 1st place in the apicot pie contest! I was really suprised by this win! Normally when another lady and her son enter I never win! I am still is shock! They had 8 apicot pies entered. I win $25 and 25lbs. of sugar. I am entering a cherry pie tomorrow, I have the sour cherries canned and made an extra pie crust ready from today..

So pray for me tomrrow, not just to win, but I am still not feeling well… To be honest I am thinking this might be my last year.. With my health decling as fast as it is.. I’m not sure how the next 6 months will go…

Well until next time… I’m reallty tired,, So please forgive my missplelled words ect.. To tired to clean it up! 

Night all…

Amanda 🙂

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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Fair Week Has Started!

Hello Everyone,

Today is the starting line to a very busy week for me! I have a lot to get done today, I still need to decorate my fair cakes! YIKES!! What I decided to do this year, was simply ice two different cakes. I went to Fred Meyer and had the fair book copied on sugar sheets, so they would stick to the frosting easier. Plus they will look better than if I had just made paper copies of it. Saturday Ray and I spent all day working out a deal for a van, so I had plenty of time to think about how I would put these cakes together. I have one 14-inch square and it’s just going to have the fair book cover on top and then I thought I would cut some of the extra sugar sheets apart to decorate the sides. The other cake I have is 2-tier round cake, (by the way there both dummy cakes, styrofoam). I haven’t quiet decided on what I’m doing with this one, other than using the sugar sheets. I am so happy I bought the sugar sheets. With my stove giving out last week, and with getting the van, plus being sick, I feel really drained. Plus some family issues has really had me upset.. All I will say is that I have decided to have no contact with any of them for a long time.. I think it would be better for all of us anyway.. I am too sick to deal with them anymore.. I just want to get through crazy fair week, and spend time with my husband and go to church.. Sometimes in life there is nothing more you can do for people, so your only option is to move on.. And that’s what I am doing…

I do have to finish my fair entries today. I just need to print off my canning labels and put the dried herbs in jars.. I think I have 15 entries for the canning department this year. I was going to make peach jam, preserves and peach pie filling last night, but the peaches I bought we not any good at all. They were called saucer peaches and were more flat, and they had a bad texture to them. So, sadly out to the trash they had to go.. 😦 I am going to wait for the local Freestone peaches to ripen, they are great for canning!

Well I better be off… It’s going to be a looooonnnng day for me..

Amanda 🙂

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


Strawberry Jam

Hello Everyone,

One of my favorites jams to make is strawberry! Nothing beats a fresh batch of strawberry jam! When I was a kid my mom would make it and she would let us lick the leftovers in the pan, left over from jam making. I have to admit that was one of my favorite tasks when it came to canning season! 🙂 Also fresh jam is wonderful on homemade toasted bread, spread with a little fresh butter then slather on the fresh strawberry jam! That’s about as close to heaven as you can get, right here on earth, just my humble thoughts on the subject!! 🙂

Strawberry Jam:

3 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled

1 box 1-3/4oz. packaged powdered fruit pectin

2 tbsp. bottled lemon juice

7 cups granulated sugar, I use C&H pure cane sugar

1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

Place one cup of berries in an 8-quart heavy saucepan. Crush berries, a potato masher works really well for this. Continue adding berries and crushing until you have 5 cups crushed berries. Stir in pectin, and lemon juice, stirring constantly on high heat, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil that can’t be stirred down. Add full amount of sugar, and bring to a full rolling boil again; stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir in the butter. Ladle into hot sterilized, half-pint or pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and place sterilized 2 piece canning lids on fingertip tight. Process in boiling water canner, and adjust boiling time to your altitude.*** Place in boiling water canner and cover with warm tap water. Start timing when water in canner comes to a full boil, on high heat. When time is done, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner for 5 mor minutes. Using a jar lifter bring jars out of water, do not tip-off water on jar lid. That can ruin your seal on the jar. Let sit on a towel untouched for 24 hours. Makes about 7 half-pints or 3-4 four pints.

If this is your first time canning please read through the USDA guidelines for canning…

I hope this will encourage you to try making your own jams and jellies! I love making them, even through its a lot of work! Nothing beats a your own fresh jams and jellies filling your pantry! They make great gifts too!! 🙂

Amanda 🙂


Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Canned Foods


Just me today….

Hello everyone,

I have some good news and some a little sad news today.. If you don’t want to read sad news and some family drama please don’t read this… I had a good visit with my Dr yesterday. My sed rate is 15 for the Sarcoidosis. If you’re not familiar with what a sed rate is here is a definition of what it is:

Erythrocytes sedimentation rate (ESR), Westergren method,(Sed Rate) is blood test measures how quickly red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle in a test tube. The more red cells that fall to the bottom of a special test tube in one hour, the higher the sed rate.
When inflammation is present in the body, certain proteins cause red blood cells to stick together and fall more quickly than normal to the bottom of the tube. These proteins are produced by the liver and the immune system under many abnormal conditions, such as an infection, an autoimmune disease, and cancer. There are many possible causes of an elevated sedimentation rate. For this reason, a sed rate blood test is done with other tests to confirm a diagnosis. Once a sed rate blood test is conducted, the course of the disease or the effectiveness of treatment can be monitored.
The normal sedimentation rate (Westergren method) for males is 0-15 millimeters per hour, and for females is 0-20 millimeters per hour. The sedimentation rate can be slightly more elevated in the elderly and is much lower for children.

What my number 15 means is that the methotrexate I am taking is working and I can safely lower and go off steroids. I will be so happy to be off steroids, the side effects are nasty. From big time emotional problems, to bone pain and possible breaking of bones, muscle pain, vision problems, skin rashes, pimples, and the list goes on… Hopefully someday the Sarcoidosis will go into remission! I would love that and I wouldn’t have to take any pills!! 🙂

The kinda sad news is that my brother got married today and my husband and were not invited to the wedding. We are not getting along still… Here’s some history for you, so maybe you will all understand why this is happening. Several years ago he got divorced from the mother of his children, my 2 niece’s and 1 nephew. I won’t say why they divorced, but it hurt all of us. Mostly hurt his kids more than anyone.. I was really angry with his ex-wife for a long time and wouldn’t speak to her, mostly out of respect for my brother. One day in church our pastor was talking about forgiveness and inviting someone to church that we didn’t get along with. That really spoke to me, about how I really needed to forgive her. My husband and I talked it over and we both decided to invite her and the kids to church, she had the kids on Sunday’s, (it was a work related custody thing I guess).. When she came to church with us and the kids it really made my brother mad. So I think to get revenge on me he accepted a friend request on FB from the man who raped me almost 12 years ago… That hurt me in more ways than words can describe.. We were not trying to hurt his feelings, we just wanted the kids and their mother to come to church, was that so bad??? We also wanted to invite them so we could see them, (my brother will not let us see the kids when he has them) it’s his way of revenge I guess, and it’s sad. All this does is hurt those precious children.. I have been so sick these past 3 years that I can’t handle all three of them at once… That’s also why we starting taking them out one at a time on their Birthday’s.. I know some of my family may be upset with me for writing about this, but right now I’m past caring on what they think of me… My husband says he hates to see me sad about this, but I admit my feelings are hurt.. We went out of our way to help him when he divorced and this is how we are treated??? You know what they say? You can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends.. I love all my friends and a few family members that have been so supportive of me during my illness. When your sick your real friends and family stick with you, and through all this I know who they are…I love my husband very much! He has had to put of with alot of crap, not only from me but some others, I won’t say who..

Well I better go for now, too much sadness today….


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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


Lavender Brownies

Hello Everyone,

Here is a recipe that was in my local newspaper a couple of years ago. Now if your not used to lavender go easy with it. It’s a flavor that’s not for everyone. If your use too much lavender in a recipe you’ll have a soapy taste. It taste’s like ginger to me. My husband and I both love the taste of it. So I leave it up to you to decide. You can get lavender flowers at any specialty food shop.

Lavender Brownies:

10 tbsp. Unsalted butter

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon lavender flowers buds

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put sugar and lavender buds in a food processor and pulse together. Set a double boiler on a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, Add butter, lavender, sugar, cocoa, and salt, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the remaining mixture becomes fairly smooth and hot. Remove from heat and let cool until the mixture is warm. With a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla the add eggs, one at a time until well incorporated, after each one. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated, then stir the mixture vigorously for 40 strokes. Pour into an 8×8-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil, making sure two ends over hang the edges of the pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a hint of batter on it. Let pan cool completely on a wire rack, then use the ends of the foil or parchment paper to lift the brownies out.

Note: Adding a tablespoon of lavender flowers buds to 1 cup of sugar yields a very light aroma. For more intense flavor add another 1 teaspoon of buds.


Amanda 🙂


Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Bar Cookies, Dessert's


June Food Network Magazine Recipe Reviews

Hello Everyone,

Here are some of the recipes we tried in June. First on is on page 62 and 63, the “He Made She Made”  flavored tea contest, between Bobby Flay and Aarti Sequeira. We loved Aarti’s tea better than Bobby’s. In Bobby’s you could not taste the blackberries at all. In Aarti’s tea the flavor was just right and we loved it!!! Sorry Bobby maybe next time!! 🙂

Next recipe is on page 66 the Copy That recipe. It’s the Almost-Famous Corn Salsa, this was just ok to us, not that good. I ended up using the rest of the corn salsa in a Mexican casserole and it tasted really good in that..

The next recipe is on page 69 Ashley’s Banana Cream Pie, neither of us liked this one either. I guess it’s because I don’t like banana’s too much. Ray said it was ok, not the best..

The next recipe’s are page 95, I made both the Peanut-Butter Chocolate Chip-Bacon Cookies, and these were really good!  I made the Beer Lover’s Sundae sauce and it tastes fine if you like beer. I’m not a drinker so most of this will go to Ray if he wants it…

The next recipe is on page 100, the Fish Tacos with Fresh Salsa, and I loved these, but I love fish tacos! When we go out to a restaurant I look to see if they have them on the menu, and I get them most of the time. I changed the fish in this recipe, since I don’t trust getting catfish from the store, a lot of them have that muddy taste, yuck… My mom and step-dad are the only one’s I know, that know how to clean catfish the right way. I used tilapia instead, and it worked out great!

The next recipe are on page 131 and I made all 3 recipes. This was my first time making spring rolls and Ray loved them! He’s been asking me to make some more of them since I have some rice paper wrappers left over, I just need to find another filling. I didn’t wrap the pork in lettuce, I just marinated it and grilled it. Then place it on top of a salad and it tasted great! We both didn’t care for the bubble tea, it just tasted weird to me. I won’t buy black tapioca again, to weird for me, I guess..

The next recipe is on page 154, the Salmon burger, we both liked this one!

Next one is on page 155 the Pork burgers and these were really good, I made my own coleslaw for these.. 

The next one is on page 156, The Veggie Burger and we both loved this one!

The last recipe is on page 170 and I can’t make this one until Saturday or Sunday. We’ll be getting some fresh peaches Saturday in our Bountiful Baskets, and I am really looking forward to making Ina’s Fresh Peach Cake!  I also have to make a peach cobbler, Ray has been begging me to make one! 🙂 With the rest of the peaches I am canning jam, and peaches for the fair. I’m going to have a busy week!!!

I don’t have any Community Cakes this month. I felt I needed a break plus I have to get stuff ready for the fair. All I am entering is some canned foods and some dried foods. I will have about 20 entires in the canning department. My husband teased me and said “wow an all time low, are you sick! I told him hahaha you’re so funny!!! I hope sarcasm comes across here??? 

Well until next time everyone..

Amanda 🙂


Popcorn Chickpeas

Hello Everyone,

Here is another recipe we made at the U of I herb class I had awhile back. I love chickpeas! I keep them on hand to make hummus, add to soups, or salads. There tasty and very good for you! These Popcorn Chickpeas would make a great snack or addition to next dinner party or just a party! 🙂

Popcorn Chickpeas:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. coarsely chopped rosemary

1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic

3/4 tsp. kosher sat

Freshly ground black pepper

Drain and rinse chickpeas in a strainer. Turn them onto paper towels or a clean dish towel and pat dry. Pour the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and toss in the chickpeas. Cook for 5-7 minutes, shaking the pan often. They won’t brown, but they will turn several shades darker, shrink a bit and form a light crust. Pour the chickpeas back into the strainer to drain the excess oil and then return them to the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the rosemary and garlic. Stir for another minute or two until the garlic begins to brown. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of pepper. Toss again and pour them into a serving bowl. Serve warm.

Enjoy everyone!

Amanda 🙂


Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Appetizers, Snacks


Raspberry-Laced Vanilla Cake

Hello everyone,

Here is another great recipe we tried from my Soft as Silk cake book. It’s by Christine Montalvo, from West Des Moines, IA. It’s fabulous! 🙂

Raspberry -Laced Vanilla Cake:

3 cups Soft as Silk Cake flour or 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup whole milk

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 cup raspberry jam for filling

fresh raspberries for garnish

Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup raspberry liqueur

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round cake pans; place in the refrigerator. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with electric mixer on high-speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until fluffy. Beat in flour mixture, milk, vanilla and eggs on medium speed until blended. Beat 2 minutes longer. Pour into pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely.

To make frosting;

Beat butter and powdered sugar in medium bowl on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in liqueur and vanilla until smooth and spreadable.

To Assemble Cake:

Cut each cake horizontally to make 2 layers. (Mark side of cake with toothpicks and cut with a long, thin serrated knife.) Place one layer, cut side up, on serving plate; spread with 1/3 cup raspberry jam to within 1/4 inch of edge. Top with another layer, cut side down; spread with 1/3 cup buttercream frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting. Pipe frosting on top of cake if desired. Garnish with raspberries. Store loosely covered.

Good night everyone!

Amanda 🙂


Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Cakes


Mango Raspberry Jam

Hello Everyone,

Here is a recipe from my Ball Blue Book of Home Preserving. I have been trying to find recipes for just mango jam, but this was the only recipe I could find. It takes about 2 weeks to set up, so don’t plan on eating it right away, unless your like me and just can’t wait! LOL! It is really good! 🙂

Mango Raspberry Jam:

3 cups chopped, pitted, peeled mangos

1-1/2 cups crushed red raspberries

2 tbsp. bottled lemon juice

1 package regular powdered fruit pectin, 1.75 ounces

5-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

Wash 7, 8-ounce half-pint jars and place in boiling water canner on rack. Fill canner about halfway with warm tap water and put burner on medium-high heat. Place jar lids in a small saucepan filled with water and bring to low boil. In a large stainless steel cooking pot, place fruit, lemon juice and pectin in pot; bring to rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil you can’t stir down, make sure you use a long-handled wooden spoon, as fruit can spatter and burn. Once fruit mixture boils, immediately add all of the sugar, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches a rolling boil again. Stirring constantly for 1 minute, remove from heat. Add in the butter, ( the butter helps to reduce the foam). Skim foam if any. Ladle hot fruit into hot jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace, wipe rims with a clean damp towel, place lid on and screw band on fingertip tight. Place jar back in boiling water canner. Repeat until all the jars are filled or until all of jam mixture is gone. Cover jars with at least 1-inch of hot tap water. Bring a full boil over high heat. Now if this is your first time canning please read through the USDA guidelines for canning. Processing times are different at different altitudes.

We had a quite 4th of July. We were going to go to my aunt’s house, but some thing’s happened and we ended up staying home…I also was sick and was supposed to get e cake delivered to a nursing home on the 4th, but I couldn’t get it done. I had to call the President of Community Cakes and let her know. I feel really bad about not being able to get the cake done, but there was nothing I could do…

I don’t have any cakes for July, I decided with the fair I would be busy. Plus I am still recovering from foot surgery and we are looking at moving to a different house. We really need to move out of this old house, way out in the boonies! LOL! We need to be closer to town so Ray doesn’t have to drive so far and I don’t have so far to drive top my Dr. appts.

Well I better go for now…

Until next time…

Amanda 🙂


Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Canned Foods