Recipe Review: Zucchini Snack Cake with Orange Glaze

Cooking, gardening

Yesterday, I wrote about my crazy baking day in the kitchen in order to use a zucchini. I made three different recipes. I decided to put the Zucchini Muffins and the Zucchini Brownies in the freezer. We would have the Zucchini Snack Cake with Orange Glaze for dessert.

There were two reasons for this decision. One being this was a new recipe and I wanted to taste it while it was at its peak. I have made the other two recipes before and already knew how they tasted. The second being that I was not craving chocolate, or desiring a muffin for dessert (more of a breakfast thing). So cake it would be!

I picked the snack cake recipe mainly because it did not contain chocolate. It seems as though all the recipes for zucchini cake throw in a bit of chocolate. But I did not want chocolate. Love chocolate, just not all the time. This recipe also contained orange. Bingo! I was sold. We have an orange tree out back and I not only need to use the zucchini but the oranges as well. Then I saw that the recipe came from a familiar blog (Barefeet in the Kitchen) that I have made recipes from before and they were always delicious.

So here is the recipe:

Did I make any changes? Yes, two very minor changes. The baker said that she prefered to use store bought orange juice as it had more flavor in the cake. Well, I know that the flavor is not in the juice but in the zest. So instead of just using my freshly squeezed orange from our orchard, I also added the zest of the orange to boot. The only other change I made was in the amount of glaze I used on the cake. I wanted to cut down on the sugar content so I reduced the glaze by half and it was plenty. The glaze covered the top of the cake completely. If wanting to cover the sides as well, then use the whole recipe for the glaze.

The cake was easy to make and tasted good. The aroma of oranges flooded my kitchen as this baked. Wonderful! So, if wanting to use up some zucchini and oranges, why not give this recipe a try.

As always, Happy Baking!

Another Day with the Crazy Baker

Cooking, gardening

One zucchini can go a long way! I still had one plump zucchini from the garden. Since everyone around my house seems a bit done with sauted zucchini as a side for dinner, I turned into a crazy baker lady today.

I think I shredded five or 6 cups of zucchini. So, with the oven set to 350 degrees, I just kept turning out the recipes until the zucchini was all gone. I ended up making a total of three recipes. I started with Zucchini Brownies, then Zucchini Muffins, and to finish, Zucchini Cake with Orange Glaze. My kitchen looks like a bakery.

I plan on popping most of this in the freezer. Some day when I’m feeling lazy, I can take out a treat for the family. I just hope there is room in the freezer, come to think of it… The last time I opened the door a bag of green peppers (also from the garden) fell into my hands.

As always, Happy Baking!

Catching Hair Before it Goes Down the Drain

household

Drain hair catchers are important in keeping hair from clogging the pipes in the bathtub. But not all are of the same quality or work in the same manner. I have recently replaced our old plastic drain hair catcher with a newer version and what a difference it makes!

The old version was made of plastic and had grippers on it with the idea of catching the hair before going down the pipes. The problem with this style (for our household) was that it did not stay in place all of the time. Also, another factor was that it just looked gross. Imagine (if you dare) looking down to see a wad of hair collected at the drain. To top this off, if there was a big enough wad of hair in the catcher (meaning no one was brave enough to empty it) , water would start to build up in the tub, as the hair blocked the way for the water to go down. The whole thing, disgusting!

Bathroom Drain Hair Stopper™

But if one goes without a catcher of some sort, there is the price to pay of fishing something down the pipe to extrude the hair blockage. Again, a big gross! But no need to panic! There is a better option out there and I have recently added it to my tub.

So this version of the drain hair catcher, the TubShroom, works so much better. It actuallly fits down into the drain and collects the hair down there without anyone being able to see any hair balls. It collects in a circle around a mesh tube so that water still can go through. The top looks like any normal bathtub metal stopper only with holes in it for water can go down. This catcher will allow water to build up a bit in tub if one doesn’t collect the hair when needed. So one still has to empty the thing, but it is not as disgusting as it comes off in a perfect little circle.

Alternate image 1 for TubShroom Drain Hair Catcher in Chrome/Clear
TubShroom
Alternate image 6 for TubShroom Drain Hair Catcher in Chrome/Clear
TubShroom with hair caught on it

So, if finding oneself up to the ankles in water, I recommend giving the TubShroom a try. This is one of my favorite household products of late. As always, Happy Cleaning!

(Images of drain hair catchers are from bedbathandbeyond.com)

Canning Tongs for Custards

Cooking

My tip of the day…I like to make a recipe for an orange custard. The custard needs to be cooked in a water bath. When I need to take the custards out of the hot bath, I find it easiest to use a pair of canning tongs. Other ways (and I have tried several) can be a bit dangerous. The canning tongs are super because they are meant to grab hot things and grip glass very well. This makes getting the custards onto a cooling rack super easy, fast, and safe.

For the recipe (which I highly recommend): https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/soft-orange-custard/

As always, Happy Baking!

What is the Best Way to Learn a Language?

life

As some, familiar with my blog may recall, I am trying to learn German. I have mainly been using the program Duolingo. Usually, I fade out of this program and then come back to it. However, as of current day, I have used Duolingo for 50 days straight. But is that enough?

The answer to that question is obviously a big fat NO. Duolingo is good, however, I can not pick and choose my vocabulary or what I would like to learn. I had bought a German workbook to learn the language but that kind of got stuffed under the coffee table only to be found while dusting. So, I have decided to dust off the workbook and give it another try with the start of a new school year.

I also decided I should try to make my learning experience a bit more fun by getting some easy readers. I am talking elementary school level here. But hey, one has to start somewhere. So I picked a couple of books that look like fun and will give them a try.

While I think my reading and recognizing words is getting better, my speaking is definitely not. Well, this should not be a great surprise because it is not like I can practice this skill on just anyone. But there has to be a better way.

I feel as though people from other countries speak more languages than Americans do. Not only do they speak other languages, but they speak them quite well indeed. I am always amazed when speaking to someone, where English is not their first language, and they say, “I only know a little”, and then they start speaking almost perfect English. How is this done?

So, I am asking for some advice here. If you know other languages, besides your native language, how did you learn it? What was the best method for you? Do you have any advice to pass on?

As always, Happy Learning!

What has Julie been up to Lately!

life

I think I have gotten carried away and neglected my posting as of late. Shame on me! So what exactly have I been so busy doing that I can not get a post out?

I decided to take up a couple of FREE (Oh you know I love that!) on-line courses. One being painting, the other fashion. Oh, and I’m loving it. The great part about FREE courses, besides the fact that they are free, is that there are no worries about grades (even though there are graded quizes) or even how well I do in the course. The courses are just for me. I am doing them for self-improvement and I am enjoying them very much.

With Covid, I think more museums and craft stores are offering free on-line opportunities to brush-up on or learn new skills. It seems a great time to learn something new and to be creative. I am enjoying learning about artists and replicating their styles. I am also loving the stories behind how some garments are created and how they have evolved over time. Fascinating! So, creating and learning is what I’ve been up to lately.

Propagated Lavender Takes Off

gardening

Ah the joys of gardening! Its the little successes that make it all so worthwhile. Back in June, I propagated lavender from lavender I had in my garden. (There’s a post on this in the gardening section.) Now it is early September and there is evidence of success. A lavender bud has formed on one of the propagated plants. Oh joy!

With the recent success of my blue potato bush and now the lavender, I could really get into propagating plants. I have a vision for where these new plants will be going in my garden. Believe me, I have a lot of space to fill. I plan to have a border of lavender and potato bushes. However, with the propagated plants, it will take a bit longer for them to reach a decent size. Yes, I would get faster results by purchasing more mature plants at the nursery, however, I kind of like this whole propagating thing.

As always, HAPPY Gardening!

Planting Apricots from Seeds

gardening

If at all familiar with my blog, one will know that I like to try growing plants from cuttings or seeds. So it will not be of any surprise that I am at it again. This time, however, it was my son’s idea to plant an apricot seed.

It is always best to do a little research before sticking cuttings or seeds into the soil. Our research on the apricot was well advised, as we now have the start of our apricot tree growing. How did we do it? Simple enough reallly. After eating the apricot, we let the pit dry on a paper towel for a few days. When it was hard, my son cracked it open with a hammer. Kinda like cracking a walnut shell really. Inside the pit lies a nice little apricot seed. This was then put into a hole poked into soil and covered with a light topping of soil. I have been careful to water it and keep it moist, especially in the heat we have been having as of late. Low and behold, the seed has produced lovely green leaves. It will be fun to watch this tree form. As always Happy Gardening!

Planting

The apricot is front row on the left. Note how well the lavender and the blue potato bush are coming along as well.

Making Fried Donuts

Cooking

My son wanted to bake some ‘Donut Shop’ donuts. Since the croissants from the cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang turned out so well, we decided to use a recipe in the same cookbook to make the donuts. We were not disappointed.

As with the croissants, the donuts did take a bit of time. The time was mostly spent waiting for the dough to rise. The actual making of the donuts was simple enough. We made the dough using our stand mixer and popped it in the fridge overnight to do it’s thing. Before going to bed we set the alarm for 5 am. Oh yah…that went over well. So up I popped and down the hall I went to get my son out of bed. It took a few attempts. In the kitchen, we rolled out the dough and stamped out the doughnuts with a large biscuit cutter. It is important to note that the dough should be rolled on the thicker side of half an inch. Better to make these a bit thicker than thinner as they need to be nice and puffy in order to fill them easily. After stamping out the doughnuts, they were left to rise on a floured cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap for two hours. It is important to flour the cookie sheet well or the doughnuts will stick. Then it was back to bed for a couple of hours while the doughnuts were rising.

After another knock or two on my son’s door, we were back in the kitchen and ready to fry our donuts. But wait! Frying takes more oil than I realized! I was off to the store for more oil while my son made the custard filling. We chose to make the same custard filling from my blog post on Polish donuts instead of the vanilla filling the recipe called for. When I returned, we got to work on frying the donuts, two at a time. When they were cool we rolled them in confectioners sugar and not the regular sugar that the recipe called for. Then my son poked holes in the donuts with a skewer and filled them with the custard he made earlier. Voila!

My family sat down for fresh donuts with much anticipation. We all enjoyed them very much. The remaining donuts were for dessert. Hee Hee!

Recipe can be found in the cookbook: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by JoAnne Chang

Note: To “refresh” the donuts, I popped them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Only do this for un-filled donuts. We filled the donuts as we were going to eating them.

As always, Happy Baking!

Ah, the Difference a Day Makes!

gardening

As I was busy baking this morning, I got a little late start on my watering. But I got out there, with hose in hand, ready to give the plants I have been propagating a bath, when low and behold, there is color amongst the green. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Oh my gosh! I am now jumping for joy, full of excitement. The blue potato bush, that I propagated back in June, has a flower! A beautiful, perfect, little flower. Not only does it have a flower, but another bud as well. I am so excited! So much so that I made my daughter come outside so I could show her.

The funny thing is, is that when I watered the plant yesterday, there was no flower. I did not even notice a bud. Maybe I missed the bud, but there was not a flower. Ah, the difference a day makes in the garden. It is the little successes that make all the difference. I hope that my green thumb continues with this one. I have now become attached.

To see my original post on my blue potato bush, see my post titled Propagating Plants. This blog was posted on June 4th. So, about two months was all it took to get to this flowering point. However, not all propagated plants survive, as can be seen in my post titled Propagating Plants – An Update, from July 26. Now that I’ve had success with this propagation, I may try another one to replace the one I lost in July.

As always, Happy Gardening!