Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mom's Applesauce Cake 12/10/2011

batik furoshiki from Japan
No, this isn't applesauce cake. This is a gorgeous hand-painted batik furoshiki she bought the year we were in Japan. I've always loved it, from long before I ever tried to do any batik.

Her applesauce cake recipe was in her old hand-written cook book, with notes for instance on how she cooked the turkey each year when I was a kid. She knew right where it was on a shelf when I asked her, and I made the cake the first week I was there, when she could still enjoy it.

The unfamiliar ingredient in this recipe is cornstarch. What is cornstarch doing in a cake recipe? Well, I think it is like putting it in apple pie; the cake can have lots of applesauce in it, and be moist, without falling apart. This recipe is from long before things like carrot cake and zucchini bread.

In fact, her cookbook says her mother got the recipe from Mom's godmother Mrs Dorsey Ridge.

Mom's Applesauce Cake      ( from Mrs. Dorsey Ridge, approx 1920)

Put in large bowl, then sift together:

2 cup flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 Tablespoons powdered chocolate (or cocoa is ok)
1 T cornstarch
(pinch iodized sea salt?)  (Her recipe did not call for any, but it seemed a little bland last time.)

Add and mix in:

1 c nuts  (she used walnuts) optional
1 c raisins

Add and stir in:

1 1/2 - 2 c sweetened applesauce  (1 1/2 may be more like she made, she said.)
1/3 c oil or melted butter  (Or I substitute yogurt sometimes.)

Turn into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
until toothpick comes out clean.
Maybe cover with aluminum foil at the end, if it is getting too dark before the inside is done.

When I was a kid, she kept a canister of 6 times the dry ingredients mixed up. Then she could quickly take 3 cups of that mix to make a loaf.

Great toasted with butter for breakfast.

After Thanksgiving, when she was in the hospital bed, and had stopped eating solid food, I was heating in the microwave a piece of this cake I had made for my brothers' visit, and I heard her call loudly from the bedroom "Cut the bread! Cut the bread!"  I took a piece in there, and broke off a small corner to put in her mouth - and she smiled... so beatifically.

Dec 11, 2011
Just got the oven fixed, after more than a year when I couldn't bake. And the first thing I made, to take to the last day of class, was this applesauce cake. She always used to make it during the holidays, for my sister's and brothers' birthdays. 

Yesterday it was 2 years since she died. Just since the end of summer am I starting to get things done again.

July 13, 2013
I just made applesauce cake again last night. It's funny, I follow the recipe, but it isn't the same as her dense, dark cake. I even put in walnuts this time, like she did. Maybe it's the type of chocolate/cocoa. (I have Guittard, I think she had Hershey's in her cupboard.) And maybe she used her home-made applesauce. . .

The cake keeps well and stays moist.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Full moon puzzle

full moon mandala photo, @15 sec. July 22, 2013 1am
The full moon was clear and bright in a black sky. The exposure was 15 seconds, f6.3, with a tripod.

Apparently that was enough time for the close bright moon to light up the surrounding sky.

I don't know why the photo has a star shape, with hexagonal patches of light, and a greenish sky color, but I like it.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

This doesn't look like a heat wave . . . July 4th, 2013 noon

July 4th, 2013 noon - over 100 degrees today
But it was.

With the clouds and extra moisture, it was hot and muggy, and didn't cool off as well at night. And around 100 degrees F all week!

At least the possible thunderstorms didn't happen and cause fires.

This week, July 18, it's about to heat up again, after a week of low 80s. 100 degrees by Saturday.

Amazing how cool 80 degrees feels in the summer. And how hot it is in the spring.

And at the end of that week, walking up the hill, I met a neighbor who said how cool 90 degrees felt!

Of the 2 tall trees on the left, the right one was the redtails' home tree. You can just see that steep crotch, near the top. You see how far away it really is.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The hummingbird and the hawk July 3, 2012 about 1:30pm

And while I was out there watching them, I saw lots of other life in the canopy in a way I had never noticed before...

Some of the things I saw were hummingbirds, rising straight up in the air, maybe 60 feet or more, then dropping straight down, and near the ground, swooping off to the side. Then again (or another one, maybe). Repeated several times. Friends said it was a mating display.

I've lived here over 30 years, and never saw that before.

In this photo, the hummingbird is nearing the top of its rise. It is about 30 feet from me (horizontally).

The tree is about 100 feet away. The large crotch is the location of the redtails' nest. The nest is over 100 feet off the ground, maybe 60 feet above eye-level on the balcony, with the slope of the hill. It's probably one of the redtail chicks in the branches, flying by that date, but still often in the home tree.

Hummingbird and Redtail hawk,  July 3, 2012
The relative sizes are very distorted by the different distances. They look close to each other, but are not.

I was not out on the balcony as much this year, and have not seen the hummingbirds' display.

July 23, 2013 The swallows have apparently left for the mountains already. I was on campus on the 18th, and noticed they weren't  there. I had hoped to catch them gathering, as I did once before, but I've missed it for this year. Maybe they left early because it's been so hot.

I don't know, because I missed it.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Now that I've posted a sun halo, I guess I should show a sundog

picture from fall 2011
This picture is of a sundog, related to the halo. Often they come in pairs; this one was single. Called sundogs because they follow the sun around. There can be one on each side of it, at 22 degrees.

Since I learned that they exist, I've been seeing them 3 or 4 times a year. Before that, I never saw them, even during the years I worked outdoors, until the end when I knew about them.

This is the best one I've seen.

Update: for best sky pics, especially without a polarizing filter, try lowering your exposure by a stop or even 2 stops. Or, of course, do that afterwards in Photoshop by adjusting the exposure setting.

Aligned hexagonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. This one shows the prism-effect of spectral colors too.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Redtail chick flying July 2, 2012

 young redtail photo July 2, 2012
After the redtail chicks had begun to fly, they were still nearby. And the parents would fly over to see if anyone was in home tree, to deliver a prey item. And often there would be a chick in hot pursuit of mama and lunch.

The v-shaped crotch of the tree showing at lower right of photo, was the nest site. It's about 30 feet down from the top of a Ponderosa pine tree. Somewhere over 100 feet off the ground. Only about 100 feet away and 60 feet up from my balcony, because of the slope of the hill.

I miss "my" redtails, which didn't come back this year. But they're around; I just saw one circling over the old nursery down the hill yesterday morning.

I'm trying to use this year to finish sorting last year's photos. At a thousand pics a day average, for a month, it's no surprise that's not done yet. I'm finding some unexpected images.

And while I was out there watching them, I saw lots of other life in the canopy in a way I had never noticed before...

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