Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gourmet with Dana: Orange Sunshine State Cake

Orange Sunshine State Cake

Welcome back to my series, Gourmet with DanaMy sister-in-law Dana prepared many of the delicious dishes in this series as a feast for my mother's birthday earlier this month, and I asked her to share her wealth of culinary expertise. 
Orange "Sunshine State" Cake

  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • Zest of two large oranges
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees; grease and flour 2 8″ cake pans.  Sift together cake flour and baking powder; set aside.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, and zest in a mixer with a paddle attachment ; mix on medium high until the mixture gets fluffy. 
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture. Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined; then add 1/2 of the orange juice and 1/2 of the sour cream and mix until combined.  Add 1/2 of remaining dry ingredients to batter and mix, then add remaining sour cream and orange juice, finishing with dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Pour evenly into cake pans.
  4. Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until edges of cake are pulling away from pan and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; then flip out onto cooling rack and let cool completely.  Fill with orange curd and frost with cream cheese orange frosting.  Garnish with orange slices for decoration.

Orange Curd 


  • Finely grated zest of 4 oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Instructions:

  1. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar/orange zest mixture and mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the orange juice. Mix until combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The orange curd will be ready when it coats a spoon, and it will register about 175 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Be careful not to overcook, or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and pass curd through a strainer to strain out any curdled egg; refrigerate.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange extract (or more if desired)

Beat together all ingredients until well incorporated.

If you are looking for an easier version using boxed cake mix, pudding, and whipped topping, check out this one at All Recipes: Orange Sunshine State Cake.

Again, the other posts in this series are:

Virginia Knowles

This post will be linked at...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Space of My Own (My Desk Again)

Hello friends!

I am so glad that I set up a desk for myself in our bedroom several months ago.  Maybe you read the post I did on A Desk for Mom.  I've tweaked it since then, for both usefulness and aesthetics.  My inspiration? A trip to the public library...

A Space of My Own:
Inspirational Ideas for Home Offices,
Craft Rooms and Studies

By Caroline Clifton-Mogg, it has a definite British feel!

"Peace and quiet are as important as seating and storage."
You know this lady has good sense.
I'm so glad my husband installed a new bedroom door for me.
It's sturdier, and has a lock that can only be opened
with a key from the outside -- or a person on the inside!
Gotta love that lock!
Sometimes a mom just needs some peace and quiet!

More good advice from the book!
What do I already have?
Let's put it to use!

I was getting frustrated because there didn't seem to be enough room for everything I needed on my desk.  I have a shelf in our kitchen that is 29" long that I would have loved to use behind my laptop -- but I couldn't spare it from its current use.  I tried finding another one at Walmart to no avail, and I didn't really want to spend the money anyway.  Maybe a piece of wood and two bricks?  No, I didn't do that either.  Instead, I found this wire shelf in the dining room, not really needed where it was.  Good enough.  That top basket (holding miscellaneous small items and papers) has always been behind my laptop, but the bottom one (under the shelf) came from across the room.  It holds my electrical outlet strip, computer power cable, and iPod charger. Very handy!   You can read the story of the vintage lamp (to the left in the picture) here: Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without.

At the corner of my desk, a built-in shelf holds a basket of sweet notes from friends and family, as well as pens and pencils and a cup of index cards.  Most of my office supplies, as well as some personal care items, are actually in a little drawer system on an adjacent bookshelf. 

While I was going through my basket of papers, I kept finding little things that I'd like to see more often.  I knew there was an unused bulletin board leaning against the wall in our storage room, so I claimed it for "a space of my own."  It rests on the edge of the desk, but is also anchored to the wall with a nail.  My inbox (paper, not digital) is just in front of it.

Some of the stuff on my board...

My mom recently found a postcard I bought
about 40 years ago in San Francisco,
as well as a bunch of other childhood papers.
I'll have to dig out some of my
elementary school poetry to share soon. :-)
"Only with winter-patience can we bring
the deep desired long awaited spring."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I am in the middle of reading (again)
her lovely, deep, poetic book
Gift from the Sea.

A pop-up Mother's Day card from a daughter.
Yes, you can do 3D on a bulletin board!

A favorite quote, printed out and "pinked" at the edges
with a pair of fancy scissors.
John Ruskin said it well about
the entire object of true education being from the heart.
I try to keep this in mind with my children and with others
whom I seek to influence. 

Cut from a greeting card, another poignant quote,
this by Maya Angelou about choosing 

to change our attitudes
about what has happened to us and within us.
Stamps from a package sent by
Rev. Headson Makazinga in Malawi.
We are producing a new Chichewa language
Bible tract.  You can read about the first one
(four years ago) here:
What in the World Is This?
The stamps are a visual reminder
to finish up quickly!
I did a few other things to spruce up the bedroom recently. This pretty bedside table is from a yard sale, one of two matching ones ($5 each) that my husband kindly brought home for me.  A large lace doily covers a multitude of sins, in this case minor blemishes on the wood surface.  My decorative ensemble: a pillar candle in a large goblet, a ceramic bird, a framed poem "Seven Blessings for One Marriage" (moved from the desk), and a small handful of acorns (brought back from my trip to Maryland a few weeks ago) in a ceramic container that usually has a flowered lid on it.  I love to have something pretty like this arrangement to look at when I first wake up in the morning.

I don't know what these are called,
but they are in the goblet 
with my pillar candle.

My mother has the matching one.
I am sentimental like that.

{Faith Grows in God's Love}
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."
I guess that's another reminder to be patient
in the midst of the challenges life!

More inspiration for decorating for the season: 

Autumn: A Pretty Home and Yummy Food on a Budget

Virginia Knowles

This posted will be linked at:

Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays

Whole-Hearted Home
Simple Design's 
Share Your Thrift Haul
(last Monday of each month)

Domestically Divine Tuesday 

31 Days of Organizing Fun

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Advocating for the Vulnerable Series on Watch the Shepherd Blog

Dear friends,

I've been compiling a series on Advocating for the Vulnerable on my Watch the Shepherd blog.  So far I have six posts, and I plan to do more articles on urban ministry, immigrants, and human trafficking.  Some of them will include interviews, others book reviews. 

A friend who is a former victim of domestic violence wrote to tell me how much my article on that topic meant to her today.  As I noted in it, most of us already know someone who is directly affected by family violence, whether we are aware of it or not. Just a few miles from our house, a fatal domestic violence tragedy hit the national news this week.  Just think of all of the people whom we never even hear about.

If you haven't had a chance to read these yet, I invite you to click these links.  If you see something that would be helpful to those whom you know, would you be so kind as to share the links with them either by e-mail or on your Facebook status?

Other related articles not in this current series include:

Related series and articles on another of my blogs, www.ComeWearyMoms.blogspot.com:

And finally, not related at all but newly updated...


Virginia Knowles

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gourmet with Dana: Fall Harvest Quinoa with Butternut Squash {Vegan Recipe}

Fall Harvest Quinoa with Butternut Squash

Welcome back to my mini-series on Gourmet with Dana.  No, I'm not Dana.  She's my sister-in-law, and an amazing chef and baker!  Dana made many of the recipes in this series as a feast for my mother's 74th birthday earlier this month, and I asked her to share her wealth of culinary expertise.  I ate several servings of this dish over the weekend -- so good and so good for you!

This makes a wonderfully fancy and hearty dish for a Thanksgiving or other holiday meal. Please note that the Fall Harvest Quinoa with Butternut Squash is vegan, so it's a great choice if you are hosting family or friends who don't eat animal products.

Fall Harvest Quinoa with Butternut Squash

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 12-oz box of quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberies
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (reserve several leaves for decoration)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil plus more for frying sage leaves
  • 2 tsp dried ground sage
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  2. Combine 1/2 cup canola oil, maple syrup, dried sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.   Toss butternut squash in mixture, making sure to coat all the cubes evenly.  
  3. Spread out squash on foil-lined baking sheet, roast for 30 minutes or until fork-tender; set aside.  
  4. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions.  
  5. Saute shallots and chopped sage until the shallots are translucent; remove from heat.  
  6. Fold squash, cranberries, chopped sage, and shallots into cooked quinoa.  
  7. Heat about 1 inch of canola oil on high until a drop of water causes the oil to bubble and sizzle; quickly fry whole sage leaves in oil and remove with slotted spoon.  NOTE: Be sure your whole sage leaves are as dry as possible after washing so that they won't splatter you with hot oil!  
  8. Garnish quinoa with fried sage leaves.

Chopped sage

Sauteed shallots

Butternut squash

The finished dish!

Other posts in this series so far:

Gourmet Main Dishes: Shrimp Bisque {and} Salt Crusted Roast Beef with Mushrooms

More ideas for hospitality to guests with special food needs here:

You can find other recipe links on my Food page.

Bon appetit!

Virginia Knowles

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Love Lifted Me" and a Few More Memories of Maryland

"Grandson in Swing with Striped Hat"
My entry for "Cool Evening" theme
in the 
P52 Photo Project 
I'm flying back to Florida this evening, but here is my last batch of Maryland pictures. The first several pictures are from my parents' yard on Saturday evening.

Florida boy, not used to hats...

This morning, we managed to squeeze in one last visit 
to see Grandma Hess at her assisted living facility.

My grandma, who turns 98 next month,
and my mom, who turned 74 today!

Looking at pictures from our visits on Friday and Saturday.

My daughter and grandsons

The other residents really enjoyed our visit


Grandma played "Happy Birthday" on the piano for my mom,
and then her old favorite hymn "Love Lifted Me."
My grandson tried his hand at the keyboard, too.

Grandma apologized for not remembering
exactly who I was.
"I'm getting old you know!" she laughed.
And it reminds me to hold these moments close.

"Love Lifted Me"

by James Rowe

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore.
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more;

But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I. 

   Love lifted me! (even me)

    Love lifted me! (even me)

    When nothing else could help,

    Love lifted me!

All my heart to Him I'll give, ever to Him I'll cling,
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing.
Love so mighty and so true merits my soul's best songs;
Faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs. 

   Love lifted me! (even me)

    Love lifted me! (even me)

    When nothing else could help,

    Love lifted me!

Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves.
He's the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Saviour wants to be -

The entire weekend in pictures:

Virginia Knowles

P52 with Kent Weakley
P52 Photo Project 

Raising Homemakers 
Whole-Hearted Home

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