Tuesday, December 30, 2008


There is a tradition or a food that everyone links with a particular holiday or celebration. With my family, it's Rum Torte and Kipfels at Christmas. Recipes handed down from my grandmother Stella, they are forever linked with our celebration. So much so that, if I don't make them, I should just stay home. It's been said jokingly, but I am not going to test that theory.

The Rum Torte isn't fancy, just a rum soaked pound cake sliced very thinly and spread with even thinner layers of chocolate ganache boosted with yet more rum. There have been a couple of years where it is best not to let the kids have a slice.This cake improves with age, so I bake it a week before Christmas, allow it to sit at room temperature for a couple of days, then frost at least 3 days before we celebrate. Every year the question is asked," How many layers?" The most has been 17, this year just 14. I must be slipping. One year, when Grandma was still alive we each made one to see who was better at slicing thinly! I think she won, maybe I did, there was definitely a debate of what counted as a "layer" of cake.

Kipfels are a rustic cookie made from an unsweetened yeast dough rolled out with sugar and filled with a dollop of apple butter. My one regret is that I didn't get the apple butter recipe from Grandma before she was stricken with Alzheimer's. I do my best with a purchased product from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. It's almost as good as hers.

This is how we remember our family members, by reproducing their recipes. Bring them, or else!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I am watching Tim Burton's version of WIllie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As much as I can like Johnny Depp as an actor, I much prefer Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka. And the Oompah Loompah and their songs? Don't leave me humming this time around. Since I am already finding fault with this remake, where are the close ups of the candy? Not nearly enough in my opinion, and I don't feel like snacking on any of the special effects! So, are there films about food that I do like? Absolutely. My all-time favorite is Mostly Martha, a german film found in the foreign film aisle of my local video store. You have to be willing to read sub-titles, but the kitchen scenes were realistic and they made me hungry. That is a definite sign of approval in my book. I also liked Ratatouille. Now, while I appreciated the excellent technical accuracy of the culinary aspects of this animated film, I found the rats a bit too well done. Insert shudder here. My hat is off to the animators, but perhaps they could have been a little less skilled at their jobs? Hmm, I suppose not.
Since I am now humming the original Oompah Loompah song and have no interest in watching the rest of the remake, it is time to end this unsolicited film review and find myself something sweet to eat. Thanks Willie Wonka. I'm off to find the chocolate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Time to Celebrate

There may not be as many weddings at this time of year, but everyone still loves a party, and I have a couple of favorites right now. Late in November I had the honor of creating a cake that included the patches, wings and camouflage(circa Viet Nam) for a group of Airborne vets. A military history book of the war provided the appropriate patch and wing colors/design, a hat provided the camouflage pattern. For me it is vital I have it perfect when asked to do a military cake. There is no room for error when working with insignia.

My other favorite was just this past weekend. It was a thank you holiday party for the staff of Shriner's Hospital for Children. The idea was to make it big, bright and happy for this hardworking group, and we acheived all three! It brought back memories of my grandfather. He was a shriner and my family attended lots of Shriner Christmas parties when I was a girl. I still have the photos with me on Santas lap.
Two different parties celebrating the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank you....

People like to be appreciated, and a simple thank you goes a long way. A couple of weeks ago Lisa Marie of Allianz Life charged me with creating an edible note of thanks for two of her clients. I was just the messenger, but the smiles I received when I dropped of the cookie box trios was wonderful.
So now it's my turn to say thank you to Katrina of Studio Laguna Photography. She has made my two recent photo shoots enjoyable of nearly stress free. I am glad you enjoyed the treats.