Autumn Spice Cake with Sticky Coconut-Pecan Icing

WEDNESDAY READER | October 5

Greetings Readers and friends.  And Hello October – all month Halloween fun!  I so enjoy watching the Halloween yard decorations happening in the neighborhood where I walk my 3 miles most every day.  These homes are totally decked out – each with its own unique personality.

It’s fun to spot when a new little something has been added to the mix from last year.

Here’s the first October Wednesday Reader episode.  Hope you enjoy the read and thank you so much for being here!

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POP Quiz

POP QUIZ

  1. “FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN” EQUALS HOW MUCH?
    a)  27
    b)  8
    c)  87
    d)  107
  2. CARTOON CHARACTERS HECKLE AND JECKLE ARE WHICH TYPES OF BIRDS?
    a)  Blue Jays
    b)  Cardinals
    c)  Magpies
    d)  Woodpeckers
  3. SHAWSHANK IS A FICTIONAL PRISON SET IN WHAT REAL U.S. STATE?
    a)  Connecticut
    b)  Maine
    c)  Massachusetts
    d)  New Hampshire

Autumn Spice Cake

QUICK QUESTION

WHAT BORES YOU TO TEARS?

Autumn Spice Cake

POP QUIZ ANSWERS

  1. c)  87
  2. c)  Magpies
  3. b)  Maine, Stephen King’s home state
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ABRACADABRA

It’s important to remember we all have MAGIC inside us.
~ J.K. Rowling

  • Never deprive anyone of hope; it could be the only thing the person owns.
  • Don’t make decisions when you’re angry.
  • Watch your posture.
  • Don’t pay for a job until  it’s finished.
  • Beware of those who have nothing to lose.
  • Don’t expect life to be fair.
  • Don’t hesitate to lose a battle if it helps you win the war.
  • Don’t procrastinate.  Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know.”
  • Watch the sunrise at least once a month.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Look people in the eye.
  • Tell your people that you love them.
  • Say “Please” and “Thank you” often
  • Spend less than what you earn.
  • Do unto others as you wish others did unto you.
  • Listen more than you speak.
  • Learn how to keep secrets.
  • Open the door for a random stranger.
  • Own up to your mistakes.
  • Say “Good Morning” and “Good Evening” and mean it.
  • Always tell the truth.
  • Don’t repeat all you hear; don’t say all you think.
  • Don’t criticize people, praise them.
  • Learn how to listen, it’s an art.
  • Don’t believe all you hear.
  • Smile even when you don’t feel like it.

WHO IN YOUR LIFE IS MOST LIKE YOU?

(( Starve the Landfills.  Recycle.))

RIDDLE ME THIS

WHAT GOES ALL AROUND THE WORLD BUT STAYS IN A CORNER?

Autumn Spice Cake with Sticky Coconut-Pecan Icing

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AUTUMN SPICE CAKE WITH STICKY COCONUT-PECAN ICING

This cake is exceptional.  Just the right amount of spices and an ooey-gooey icing that’s finger lickin’ good.  Perfect for ushering in sweater weather.

small bowl 1
COMBINE OAT MIXTURE:
1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cook or instant)
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

small bowl 2
CREAM:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract

small bowl 3
BLEND:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350*.  Coat two 8″ round cake pans with Pam Baking spray (it has flour in the spray).

COMBINE  oats, water buttermilk and spices in bowl and let stand 15 minutes.  (Buttermilk may curdle in hot water; don’t worry.  It’s okay.)

CREAM  butter with both sugars in bowl until well blended, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat to incorporate.

BLEND  flour, baking soda and salt into butter mixture just until combined.  Add in oat mixture.  Combine well.  Divide batter between prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully/gently invert cakes onto rack.  Cool layers completely before icing.

STICKY COCONUT – PECAN ICING
TOAST:

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecan pieces

SIMMER:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter, cubed
3 egg yolks
generous pinch of salt

ADD TO CREAM MIXTURE – OFF HEAT
1 TBSP dark rum (get the little airplane bottle at the spirits store)
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
toasted coconut and pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350*

TOAST  coconut and pecan pieces on baking sheet until nice and brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Watch and stir every few minutes to make sure not to burn.

SIMMER  brown sugar, cream, butter, yolks and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Cook until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.

OFF HEAT  add rum and vanilla.  Cool until warm to the touch and then fold in coconut and chopped pecan pieces.

ICE  cake on a serving platter so it doesn’t have to be moved unnecessarily.  Serve with sweetened sour cream.  Optional, but divine.  I never skip it.

SWEETENED SOUR CREAM
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 TBSP sugar
Beat all ingredients to soft peaks in a bowl with hand mixer.  (Can totally be made and chilled in fridge for an hour or 2 before serving.)

PRO TIP FOR CUTTING THE CAKE
Because this delicious icing is sticky, dip a thin-bladed carving knife into hot water and wipe clean between each cut.

~ Hippie Cowboy recipe box

RIDDLE ANSWER

A STAMP

Autumn Spice Cake with Sticky Coconut-Pecan Icing

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FAKE SNAKE

Last week, my 3-year-old son mistook a frog for a snake.  Last week was a millennium ago.  Back when we were naive and innocent.  Back when the world had wonder and awe.  Back when we could compartmentalize our fears and put them away to face another day.  Back when I could see myself as I choose rather than who I am.  Back when a snake was a frog.

Last week, we were staying at my friend’s cabin.  I was eager to introduce my city slicker kiddos to the nature they miss out on living in the concrete jungle.  I guffawed at my toddler mistaking a frog for a snake.  Oh, how silly it all seemed.  How sweet and serene and simple.  And then, in the midst of catching lizards and sweeping up spiderwebs, I put my daughter down to sleep in the bedroom and walked into the basement, my son skipping down the steps behind me.  I turned the corner and stopped short.  There, in the midst of the basement, was a huge snake.

My body tensed.  My pulse surged.  I could hear my heart beat.

“What’s wrong, Mama?”  my son asked.  I didn’t answer.  I just peered at the snake.  It didn’t move.  I eased up.

Hilarious.  A rubber snake.  My friend is such a jerk.

“Nothing, baby,”  I said.  “Just a silly fake snake.”

“Lemme see!”  my son said moving ahead of me and jumping off the last step toward the rubber snake with a thud.

The snake bolted across the room.

Not fake!  Not fake!  Not fake!

I grabbed my son, picking him up as I jumped back onto the last basement step.  The snake came out from where he was hiding in the corner behind some empty paint cans.  He began slithering up the wall.  Sleeping in the room directly above him was my 6-month-old daughter.  Struggling to get out of my grip and get a closer look at the snake was my son.  And beating outside my chest was my heart.

What to do?  What to do?  Could the snake get up into my daughter’s room?  Do I leave to move her?  If I do, I won’t have the snake in my sights anymore.  How did he get in?  Where will he go?  And why in the name of everything holy is he coming toward us?

I tried to search my memories.  Training from my days as an adventure tour guide in the Australian Outback eluded me.  What was I supposed to do if bitten by a snake?  Keep the bitten area below the heart or above?  Cold compress or tourniquet?  Note what kind of snake bit you.  That’s right.  ‘”Try to remember what the snake looked like so the doctor can apply the right anitvenin.

I took my phone out of my back p0cket and snapped a quick picture.  The snake continued to come toward my son and me.  That’s when I remembered that the first rule of treating a snake bite is not to get bitten in the first place so I carried my son upstairs.

I checked in on my daughter.  She was still asleep.  My son was threatening to go back downstairs and play with the snake.  I pulled out my phone and tried to look up Animal Control.  Nothing.

That’s right; there is not Internet or cell service at the cabin.  I went outside, leaving my children alone with the slithering terror 10 feet beneath them, and searched for a slight signal.  Then I called 911.

The operator patched me through to Animal Control.  Thirty minutes later, a woman with a Jeep full of crates of varying sizes pulled up the driveway of the cabin.  I told her what I knew.

She ventured into the basement alone.

Once help had arrived, my heart rate began to settle, and I was forced to face myself.  I had been afraid.  Like, really, really, really afraid.  I am clearly no longer the wilderness warrior I liked to think of myself as being in my youth.

The Animal Control worker came back up holding the 7-foot rat snake in her tiny plastic bin.  He was angry, his mouth unhinged and hissing.  I shuddered.

“You brave beautiful woman,” I said to the Animal Control worker.  “Never leave my side.”

“Isn’t that a tattoo of a snake on your foot?”  she asked.

I nodded.  “I think I may have changed.”

She laughed and walked out, whistling.

~ from the archives, copyright Katiedid Langrock 2018, Creators

Fascinating Stuff

FASCINATING STUFF

  • All black grouper fish are born female.  About half of them become male when they mature and reach adult size:  3 or 4 feet from the tip of the snout to the point at which the tail fin branches into a fork.  That measurement, used more often by scientists than fishermen, is known as a fork length, abbreviated FL.
  • Who doesn’t love a good palindromic place name?  The people of Ada, Oklahoma sure do (as do the folks in Ada, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon).  The world’s northermost palindromic place might be in Qaanaaq, Greenland, formerly known as Thule.  Which is the most fun name to say?  Let’s call it a tie between Kinikinik, Colorado and Anahananana, Madagascar.
  • If you think mac and cheese is great comfort food, you’re not alone.  People have eaten the tender pasta in creamy cheese sauce for more years than you might realize.  Possibly the earliest known recipe comes from a book called “Liber de coquina,” written in Latin in the 13th century.
  • If you ever benefited from a blood bank, you can thank Dr. Charles Drew.  After receiving his medical degree from McGill University in Montreal, he became the first African-American to earn a doctorate from Columbia University, where his dissertation, “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation,” proposed methods for collecting, storing and transporting blood and blood plasma.  He ran the Blood for Britain program during World War II and created the prototype for American Red Cross Bloodmobiles.  Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles is named for him.
  • When it was introduced in 1911, Crisco brand vegetable shortening was made from crystallized cottonseed oil.  (The name Crisco comes from the first syllables of crystallized cottonseed.)  Promising flakier pie crusts and an economical alternative to lard and butter, Crisco’s early marketing plan included a free cookbook containing 615 recipes, including something called a “Lettuce Cocktail” with a Crisco based salad dressing.  Customers ate it up.  In 1914, American households consumed about 60 million pounds of Crisco.

~ from the archives 2018, Leslie Elman, Trivia Bits, Creators

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