‘Vodka Cake’ or How to Keep a Cake Fresh and Moist

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Yesterday my blog was about how to keep berries from spoiling. Today I will tell you how to keep cake from spoiling.

The secret is vodka. Any old kind will do. I buy the big bottle of Whatever is on sale at Longs. Usually I keep vodka in the freezer, but for cooking purposes, this is not necessary.

When you are going to bake a box mix cake, instead of adding water, add vodka and orange juice. If it calls for one cup of water, you could go 50/50 or 60/40.

Your cake will be very moist and stay fresh until you are done with it. If you put it in the refrigerator it will last a loooong time. NO, you do not taste the vodka.

If you are making a chocolate cake and like the flavor of coffee, you could put kahlua or coffee liquor instead of the orange juice.

If you want it more chocolaty, add Bailey’s instead of the juice.

When you are making a lemon cake, add triple sec or Galliano to the orange juice/vodka mixture. Then for a great glaze, mix the orange liquor, vodka, melted butter and powdered sugar. Add some lemon zest and pour over the warm cake.

This frosting WILL taste like a Harvey Wallbanger. In fact this is called a Harvey Wallbanger cake. If you want it to taste more ‘down home’ add a couple of tablespoons of poppy seeds to the lemon cake batter.

For a more sophisticated cake, make a mixture of brown sugar, melted butter, and chopped pecans or walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the cake. This will become the ‘bottom’ when you unmold it from the pan.

Or you can put half the batter in pan, then add nut mixture  (leaving a border on both edges) and then top with the rest of the batter. You will have a nutty center in each slice.

I always use Duncan Hines mix and the bundt cake recipe on the side of the box. Doctored up, of course. Devils Food or Lemon Supreme.

Always use four eggs, half cup oil, one cup of vodka etc., and box of instant pudding (lemon or chocolate/vanilla. This is always a big hit and tastes very home made.

I usually use the regular instant but I have used the sugar free/fat free type and this works OK too.


Saving Berries from Molding

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This is one of the best tips I have received in a long time!

Saving berries from Molding

The key to preventing moldy berries…

Berries are delicious, but they’re also kind of delicate.  Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market.  There’s nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that fuzzy mold growing on their insides.

Well, with fresh berries just starting to hit farmers markets, we can tell you that how to keep them fresh!  Here’s a tip I’m sharing on how to prevent them from getting there in the first place:

Wash them with vinegar.

When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water.  Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted you can’t taste the vinegar,) and pop in the fridge.  The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila!  Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.  So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they’ll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.

You’re so berry velcome!

Blueberry Muffins

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My daughter is a really good cook. And baker. I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. However this acorn has surpassed my talents. She even had her cookies chosen in the Top Ten in the Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie contest last year.

Her winner was ‘Nana’s Russian Tea Cookies’, in case you want to look it up. The Holiday cookbook is available on Amazon under ‘Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies from the Past Ten Years’. I put it on my Kindle.

She sent me this recipe and it sounded so good, I thought I would share it with you, Dear Readers. She said that these are yummy.

Blueberry Muffins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup + 1 tsp sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups blueberries

preheat oven to 375 – use muffin pan paper liners
whisk butter, eggs and milk
mix flour, 3/4 cup sugar , baking powder and salt
stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients
and fold in the blueberries (I use frozen organic blueberries ok if you want to
use fresh too)
divide batter into muffin cups – and sprinkle the muffins with the remaining 1/2
tsp sugar
bake 25 – 30 minutes – or until toothpick tests clean and muffins are golden

makes 1 dozen
best eaten warm

I like to make poppy seed muffins. Use same muffin recipe but put in the zest of a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of poppy seeds. This is good, if you want to make some muffins, but you don’t have any blueberries.

Of course you have to have poppy seeds.

Club Cards

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Not a very exclusive club. But why wouldn’t everybody have a club card to a market? The difference in price is amazing and I can’t believe that people wouldn’t automatically use a card, rather than pay $6.99 for a bag of flour or a box of cereal. With the card, these items are $3.99. And if you buy two, often less.

I guess the market can keep track of your purchases, but who cares? If Big Brother is watching me at the market, it really doesn’t bother me at all.

I just got back from marketing at our new super Safeway. It is so huge, you really have to allow a good hour and half to go marketing. Plus the aisles are crooked, so just when you think you have come to the end of that particular aisle, it jogs and becomes another one.

I was tempted to go today, as I had a $25 coupon good off of a $100 purchase. It is not too difficult to spend $100 at the market these days, especially if you want to stock up on staples like oil, flour and toilet paper.

It is a Tuesday and evidently that is not a very busy day to go to the market. I will have to remember that. I could stroll up and down the aisles almost alone and there were no lines at the checkout at all.

The other great thing about marketing on a Tuesday morning, is that there are no children in the store. Mostly seniors and very few of these.

Lately I have been doing a lot of my marketing at Costco. It is really nice not to be smashing into another cart, or waiting in line behind a person buying $300 of cereal, milk and snacks.

Also, Costco does not label their aisles with the product types. I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but I guess it is so you will go up and down every single aisle looking for the three things you really want.

Plus whenever I go to Costco, I have to go to a regular market too, as they don’t carry everything I want. For example, they don’t have brown sugar. Or anything smaller than a gallon of milk. Or five pounds of cheese.

It is also refreshing to have someone put all the items in little bags and not to feel like a criminal when leaving the store and having to have your receipt checked.

I am amazed at the variety of products and the selection available. I remember when living in Hawaii was like a third world country. There were so many things we couldn’t get in the markets.

Now there is an entire kosher section, a Mexican aisle, and a full bakery. When Safeway first came to Hawaii in 1972, it was a big deal. Up until then there had been no national chains.

I remember their opening ad. It was a full page with photo of a basket of strawberries. Twenty five cents a basket. Hoards of women flocked to the store. The lines were snaking around.

Today strawberries were on special at Driscoll’s two pound carton for $6. And now with hydroponic growing, you can get good strawberries in February and March, and not have to wait until July.

It was also the first time meat had been packaged and labeled, rather than dealing with a butcher. Even my children enjoyed rummaging through the steaks, to find just the perfect one.

Now, I get a cheap thrill looking at my receipt when I have checked out. It is a game with me. First I try to estimate the amount of my purchase and see how close I can get to the actual total. Then I always enjoy reading about my ‘savings’.

Today my total was $131. But my savings were $78 or 39%. Wow!

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

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Despite a terrible title, this was a pretty good movie. I don’t know what it should have been called, but it is so hard to remember and is really a mouthful.

I went to see this movie and was pleasantly surprised. First of all the theater was nearly full on a Sunday afternoon. This is rare for Hawaii, as the last few movies I went to had less than a dozen people in the whole theater.

The movie stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. She is a P.R. person trying to fulfill her client’s dream of bringing fly fishing to the Yemen. Her client is a wealthy sheikh who doesn’t balk at the estimated $50 million needed for this project.

Mr. McGregor plays a man who is a doctor of fisheries. He is England’s expert on fish. At first he thinks that this is not only ridiculous but totally impossible. He changes his tune and puts himself wholeheartedly into this undertaking.

Between the fact that the weather is not really condusive to fishing, as there isn’t a lot of rain in the middle of the desert and the problem of transporting 10,000 salmon from England to the Yemen and having them arrive alive, keeps Mr. McG. pretty busy.

The trailers make this look like a chick flick, but really it isn’t. If you have ever read about the amazing life of the salmon, this will bring it home. If you don’t know anything about salmon, then you will learn something here.

Without spoiling the story, it is very uplifting and it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Catch up on TV Shows

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Did you see The Killing on TV? This is the one about Who Killed Rosie Larsen? I seem to have missed it, but guess what? It is on Netflix streaming.

The entire first season. All thirteen episodes. Which I watched over a five day period. Very good.

Now I see where Season Two is starting on AMC next Sunday night, April 1. I can’t wait.

I guess Sunday will be TV marathon night with Mad Men and the Killing.

There have been several really great series on TV in the past few years. If you missed any of these, try to watch them: Deadwood, The Wire, Six Feet Under and Son’s of Anarchy. Deadwood has ‘bad language, so if you are offended by ‘dirty’ words, you probably won’t like this. The Wire is about street crime in Baltimore.

Six Feet Under is about a family who live in and run a funeral home. Excellent. Son’s of Anarchy is the story of a motorcycle gang and their lives. As you can see, I have very varied tastes in entertainment.

No, I don’t just watch TV. I go to plays, opera, the symphony and read lots of books. And I play Angry Birds on my Kindle.

Now that the Bachelor is over on Monday’s, I guess I’ll have to start reading my books again.

Between my monthly ‘free’ book rental from Amazon Prime, my new Angry Bird Space app on my Kindle, and my Doubleday Book Club books, I am going to be very busy.

The New Sensodyne

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I haven’t used Sensodyne toothpaste in over twenty years. As I had a sensitive tooth this week, I decided to buy a tube.

Tartar Control with Whitening

I had gone to the dentist and he found nothing seriously wrong, but still it was bothering me. I tried the ‘clove’ remedy and that worked immediately.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this ‘old wives’ fixit for a toothache, all you do is stick a whole clove between whatever teeth are hurting. The pain will go away instantly.

But still I thought I would start brushing with Sensodyne as a precaution. I recall that this used to come in a pink/blue tube and there was only one type.

When I got to CVS and the toothpaste aisle, there were three shelves of Sensodyne. Tartar control with Whitening, Plus Whitening, Cool Gel, Full Protection plus Whitening, Impact Fresh Breath, and a couple of others. I couldn’t decide.

This is worse than picking out a box of Ritz crackers these days, what with their less salt, low fat, reduced fat, low sodium, fat free, plus now there are peanut butter and cheese flavored varieties.

I read a few labels and finally settled on the Tartar control with Whitening. The good news is that all the varieties were ‘on sale’. The regular price was quite high for a tube of toothpaste. $7.59. Even on sale at $4.59, it didn’t seem like much of a bargain.

Luckily I had a bottle of cloves on hand. I think I’ve had the same bottle for two years. That is good, because last time I checked, a small jar of cloves cost close to $10.

I only use whole cloves to stick in a ham when I bake it. And as I had a heart attack not too long ago, ham is not on my list of foods I eat very often, if ever.

Back to the toothpaste. I think the taste has been improved, as I don’t recall if being quite as pleasant. I just think it is so funny that nowadays there are so many choices for just about everything we want to purchase.

The toothpaste aisle is just one example. Brands like Crest have at least two dozen different varieties. Between all the cleaning and whitening features and the many flavors varying from mint to cinnamon, it is quite a decision these days, just for one little mundane item.

I was looking at an ad for cell phones today. It was a Radio Shack ad and it was an entire page in the newspaper. There must have been six or seven styles of each major brand. All in all maybe fifty different phones, with various prices from Free to $299.

Features ranged from phones that have full keyboards for texting to phones that can tell you where the nearest florist is located. What is this world coming to?

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