Coffee Layer Cake

CoffeeLayerCake with flowertopsRI have moved temporarily to my great grandmother’s cookbook – “Rumford Complete Cookbook,” published in 1908. Rumford, from the Rumford baking powder company. I’ve never heard of Rumford baking powder. I’ve always used Calumet. Perhaps I just never noticed it in the store.

At any rate, this cookbook was originally my great grandmother’s mother’s book – so my great great grandmother’s. I wanted to start trying these recipes just to see if they were as good as our recipes today. This is my first attempt, and it is pretty good. However, it calls for molasses which gives the cake a more spice cake flavor vs. the coffee taste I was expecting. But it is still really good.

The challenge in using these old recipes is the instructions. The assumptions are different today, so there is some guesswork involved. I will type the instructions verbatim, but also add what I ended up doing.

Coffee Layer Cake

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup mollasses
1/2 cup made coffee
2 cups flour (I used gluten-free all purpose flour – with xanthan gum to keep flour together. The package says to use 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour for cakes)
1/2 teaspoon mixed spices (Mixed spices???? I used what I had – apple pie spice – which yesterday I thought said, “Apple Allspice.” Typical. Note to self: pick up some allspice at the store.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Rumford baking powder (I used Calumet)

Beat the butter and sugar till creamy; add the eggs, then the molasses and coffee and, lastly, the flour, salt, spices and baking powder sifted together. Bake in layers about twenty minutes, and put together with frosting.

At the beginning of the cake chapter, it said most cakes require a moderately hot oven, but should not bake too quickly at first. As soon as the cake has risen well, the heat may be increased a little to give it a good crust. SO, I started with 350 degrees and then bumped it up to about 375 after the cake rose and got a little firm.

Oh, and here’s my favorite part. The instructions said to test the doneness of the cake with a broom straw. A BROOM straw???? I hope the assumption was a NEW one vs. one from the one you use on the floor.

I used a toothpick, thank you.

And miraculously it finished baking after 20 minutes. Which I found amazing because my oven it not very accurate with the temperature.

Mocha Filling and Frosting

6 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons dry cocoa
3 tablespoons liquid coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the butter to a cream, adding one cup of the sugar; then sift and add the cocoa. Beat well, put in the coffee and remaining sugar, and then the vanilla. Spread between and on top of the layers of cake.


Nibby Nut and Raisin Cookies

NutRaisin CookiesSmallI made some cookies yesterday that were not from one of my great grandmother’s recipes ( the photo project I’m currently working on ); but I liked the photo so much, I decided to include it here.

I had never heard of a cocoa nibs, (bits similar to crushed coffee beans) so I had to look it up. And of course I did not have any, so I settled for the only thing I had – Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips. I also didn’t have any raisins, so I used craisins. So I have no idea if the cookies taste anything like what they are supposed to, but they’re pretty good. But then again, it’s hard to mess up a cookie.

Nibby Nut and Raisin Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter melted and still warm
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup dried currants or raisins

Mix flour and baking soda together and set aside.

In large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugars and salt. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened, then stir in the nibs, nuts and currants. If possible, cover and chill overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and let soften while the oven preheats to 375 degrees. Scoop up level tablespoons of dough and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake between 8 and 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and no longer look wet on top. Use a metal turner to transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Butter Almond Cookie Bars

ButterAlmondCookieBarsMainSmallUnfortunately, this one is delicious, too!

Starting this project right at the beginning of bathing suit season might not have been such a hot idea. And that is why I took most of it to my in-laws’ house yesterday.


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 whole egg plus one yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and yolk, vanilla and almond. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture, then almonds. Turn into a lightly greased 9-inch square pan. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for about 25 minutes. (it took my oven almost 45 minutes.) Cool. Frost with butter icing. Cut into bars.


2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I used maple syrup. I didn’t have corn syrup)
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)

I also added some vanilla. It tastes better that way.

Blend ingredients.


Don’t pour the almond extract over the bowl you’re pouring it into. (I knew not to do that) Almond extract spilled all over, but it does taste good.






Orange Nut Bread

OrangeNutBread OnStoneREADyOrange Nut Bread
(I altered this one a bit for two reasons: 1. I wanted to start using gluten-free flour to possibly curb the number of migraines I’ve been having, and 2. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, as usual.)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used gluten-free plus 3/4 teaspoons Xanthan Gum for every cup of flour. This helps keep the bread firm)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds because I didn’t have any walnuts)
1 tablespoon grated orange peel ( I used lemon. No oranges in the house)
I beaten egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons salad oil (I assumed this meant canola oil)

I also added 1 cup craisins soaked in boiling water to plump them up.

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and orange peel. Mix egg, juice and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just moist, then fold in craisins. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until done. Remove from pan and cool on rack. Wrap and store overnight.

It turned out pretty good. It’s really good with coffee.


OrangeNutBread RecipeCard READY



Blackberry Filling

BlackberryFillingInJarSmallBerryRingSmallI decided to try my hand at making the Branbury Tarts again last night for a friend of mine – and typical of me – I ran out of the raspberry preserves. Joe suggested I make my own filling using some of the blackberries we picked last summer.

Hmmm. Good idea!

So I did. I mixed the frozen blackberries with sugar on the stove – and voila! Instant filling.

They’re tasty, too!

Branbury Tarts

Tarts with OlvatineSmall


I chose this recipe out of my great grandmother’s collection because I thought it was going to be more like a turnover. I don’t know what I was thinking. They seem to be basically thumbprint cookies. But who am I to question a recipe?

And again, a basic instruction was left out. I suppose everyone knew what, “… bake in a slow oven until brown,” meant several decades ago. Time frames! I need time frames!

I think I baked them between 25 and 30 minutes. I lost track of time because I was also trying to get ready for work. I just kept checking them.

One more note: They are quite possibly the best cookies / tarts I’ve ever eaten! Recipe below:

TartCollageBranbury Tarts

3 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups flour (I used all purpose)
Strawberry preserves ( I used raspberry preserves)
Pecan halves (I used sliced almonds)

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, salt, vanilla and flour. Mix well. Form into balls the size of walnuts and place on cookie sheet. Dent each ball in the center. Fill dents with small preserves. Top each with a pecan (or several almond slices) and bake in a slow oven 325 degrees until brown.

Tip: it takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven when the bottoms of the tarts begin to get crispy brown. Also, I halved the recipe, and only baked a few at a time. I am keeping the dough in the refrigerator so I can bake some fresh for my in-laws.

Brownie points for me!

Mama’s Recipes – a tribute to my great grandmother

MamasBroachReadyThis is a photo of my great grandmother, Louise Putnam Wilcox. It’s actually a pin with her photo on it, and I’ve always thought I favored her when looking at it. She is the only other family member – that I know of – who is small like I am. She lived with us when we were kids, and I loved her very much. She taught me how to play solitaire and poker, and I remember sitting in her lap in her rocking chair eating candied orange slices. Funny what you remember from so long ago.

Anyway, I really remember she was a great cook. Her angel biscuits were what I remember the most. Hot out of the oven, slathered with melted butter and honey. I always ate them at the end of the meal because I considered them the best part and I wanted to savor them.

I went through her recipes recently and have decided to pay homage to Mama for a little while. I’m going to attempt to make some of the recipes she found to be worth cutting out of the newspaper or writing down on her index cards to kind of keep her with me again for a while.

My first attempt did not turn out so hot. Oatmeal Cake Squares. How can a person undercook AND burn something all at the same time? Well, I’m not sure, but I did accomplish it. Part of the problem was there was little explanation in the directions. And our oven cooks too slow, so when it said to cook the cake for 15 minutes, it actually should have been 25 to 30. I did cook it 7 minutes longer, but it still was not enough. It was still liquid in the middle. To my defense, I thought cooking it 10 minutes more after the topping was put on there was going to cook it the rest of the way. No. Still soggy in the middle after the additional 10 minutes. So back in the oven for a couple of minutes……when I thought to myself, “What’s that burning smell?” The coconut topping burned a bit – but, in the end – the cake was really good – the done parts, that is.

Anyway, my great grandmother died in 1976 when she was 92. I hope you enjoy her recipes and the stories, I’m sure, I’ll have to tell in trying to prepare them. I will always include the recipes for those who are interested in trying them yourselves.

OatmealCakeSquaresREADYOatmealCakeSquareWForkReadyWhitePlateReadyOatmeal Cake Squares

1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 stick butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Pour boiling water over oats and let stand for 20 minutes. Cream together butter, white and brown sugars. Add unbeaten eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well; add oats and combined flour and soda mixture. Pour batter in greased 8″x16″ pan or two 8″x8″ pans and bake in preheated 350-degree F oven for 15 minutes. (Just make sure the cake is actually done in the middle, so it may take your oven a little longer)

Then spread with topping:

3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 can coconut (Ok. Here is another problem. What size can? I happened to have some shredded coconut, so I just used 2 cups of it. It seemed to work)
1 cup chopped nuts
3 or 4 tablespoons cream ( I used Half and Half because that’s all I had)
2 egg yolks

Mix well and spread over hot cake. Return to oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

Lemons & Leeks … and Granola

LemonsAndLeeksVertR Lemons and LeeksRI have been utilizing my new cookbook, “It’s All Good,” by Gwyneth Paltrow, a lot lately. It’s pretty good. And healthy to the point my migraines have been considerably reduced! Whoo Hoo!

Anyway, I plan on trying a risotto recipe this week, and decided some of the ingredients needed to be photographed.

I have not tried this recipe yet, but it looks pretty good.


GranolaR OliveOilAndSpoonsRMeanwhile, in a completely unrelated recipe, I’ve started making my own granola. The four pounds I lost with my new diet start to creep back up whenever I make this. It is REALLY good.

In fact, I think the name of it is called, “The Worlds Best Granola.” Anyway, I found it on the internet. It comes to us from Elizabeth Rider. So thanks to her!

(Measurements do not have to be exact)

2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
1/2 cup raw nuts, chopped
1/4 cup seeds (sunflower or pumpkin) I use wheat germ here
1/2 cup dried fruit (I use raisins and dates)
1/4 cup coconut shavings (Not called for but I use it)
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey or a mixture of both (I mix both. It’s better that way.)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or any other health cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
1 large pinch of salt

Because I always add extra dried fruit, I usually add a little extra syrup to the mix.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use clean hands to mix well. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet or pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. If I remember, I try to stir it halfway through cooking. Let cool and then break up with a spatula and store in an airtight container.

It will keep for 2 weeks, but it never lasts that long with me.

Self-portrait Holding Self-portrait, Snapshot of the Day, No. 365

012414_365SelfPortraitHoldingSPRMy last image for my photo project vs. my first one. That stupid smirk on my face indicates I’m thinking. What I was thinking in both of these photos:

Has the shutter gone off yet?

012613_1ViewCameraRAgainI spent the year shooting images I only gave myself one shot each to get – with the intention of making myself pre-visualize better. And to essentially make myself a better photographer. Some are better than others, of course; but I had a lot of fun and feel I learned a lot – so mission accomplished. It was fairly easy to do, even though I don’t have a lot of extra time most days.

As for what my next project will be ….. hmm. Maybe I’ll go back to my mask series – or perhaps a series of self-portraits. But I do plan on continuing shooting everyday. I may just upload the best one each week or each month. We’ll see.

Thanks for looking at, following and “liking” my blog. I REALLY appreciate it!

Here are a few of my former Mask photos I shot with my view camera before I stopped shooting film. ( I’m not sure I will ever shoot film again, and I really miss it. The magic of watching the image come up in the tray will always thrill me.)


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