Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is where most bloggers get on their blogs and leave a post saying, "I'll be taking a much-needed break from the blog during this most blessed of holiday seasons. Please browse around some of the older posts and most of all, have a Merry Christmas!"

But in case you hadn't noticed, I have kind of been on a break for awhile now, so yeah, no need to tell you I won't be around here for a few days.

However, because it's some unwritten law that bloggers must post family pictures on their blogs at Christmas, here you go:

I love this picture most because it's us. It's perfectly imperfect. The morning we took these (after a previous failed attempt) the wind was blowing like crazy, giving us about a 24* wind chill. Between the hypothermia and the wind-blown hair it's a wonder we got any good pictures at all. It's not one that would make the pages of a magazine, but it seems to project us just the way we are.

(Big huge thanks to my friend Brittany from Studio 215 for freezing her tushie off with us that frigid morning. She made me promise her that next year I won't procrastinate.)

This Christmas has been the best one we've had in many years. We are closer as a family, keeping our focus on God and what He has done in our lives -- and is still doing. I am so thankful for the gift Jesus gave us all those thousands of years ago, leaving the glory of Heaven and taking human form, knowing that He would die for us though we'll never deserve it. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

Thank you for sharing my sporatic posts this past year. One of these days I'm going to get back into the swing of things......I think.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

An Adventure in Monster Pie Cake

Just before Thanksgiving I heard about this thing called a "Cherpumple", otherwise known as a monster pie cake. Basically, it is a cherry pie baked into a white cake, a pumpkin pie baked into a spice cake and an apple pie baked into a yellow cake. Get it?

Because it isn't every day you make a cake of such epic proportions, I decided to photojournal the whole affair. Not to mention it took five hours from start to finish - that alone is worthy of documentation. Also, big thanks to Abby who took pictures every time I hollered. This meant tearing herself away from a Bop magazine, her iPod and the bazillions of text messages she sent her friends during the five hour ordeal.

Here's the whole shebang; all the ingredients used to make the behemoth.
I am normally not a supporter of store-bought pies, but for this recipe you need to use them. Use the store-made ones from the grocery bakery because they are smaller. The frozen Mrs. Smith pies are as big or bigger than what you'd make yourself. They have to be small to fit inside the cake.

Okay, whoops - I left the butter and milk for the frosting out of the picture.
Oh well. Pretend they're there.

Start with three greased and floured 9" cake pans.
The greasing of cake pans is why I had children. Sticking my hand in a vat of fat is enough to bring on the gags for me. Now I have children for this disgusting task and they think it is AMAZING.
I recommend having children for this purpose.

First layer: Pumpkin and spice. Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box. Pour some batter in the pan, plop the pie on top and cover with more batter.
You'll have some batter left over, but it's okay - make cupcakes!
(I actually did not make cupcakes from this layer because spice cupcakes sound nasssssty.
Then again, I'm not a fan of the spice cake to begin with.)

This layer was doomed from the start. For one thing, I put the pie in right side up and it should have been upside down. Note that this quite possible was a fatal error for layer #1.

Here is the completed spice cake layer.
If the batter runs over the edge of the pan - which it likely will - just trim the edges when it's cooled

For the sake of time, I cooled my layers in the freezer. I wholeheartedly recommend putting a layer of parchment or wax paper between the cake and plate when they cool.

Mine stuck to the naked plate.
Here is layer number two: Cherry and white.

Note I put it in upside down this time. Also note it cracked when I did.
This may have been because I was all full of myself and tried to entertain and impress my teenager who was photographing for me. She was, however, unimpressed and I just ended up with a cracked pie.
Fortunately, when you're baking an pie into a cake, cracks matter not.

To keep this photoblog from being 17 eons long (as opposed to the 14 it already is)
I didn't photograph the finished other two layers.
Just use your imagination.

The recipe I found online called for canned cream cheese frosting, but
I am a frosting purist and always make my own frosting.
When it comes to cream cheese frosting I especially don't like using canned.
It just seems ..... wrong.


Here is where I unveil the disaster of the pumpkin spice layer.
Kind of gaggy, huh?

We have all theorized and here are our two possible conclusions:
1) Putting the pie in right side up make it too hard for the pie to bake around the cake.
2) Because pumpkin pie is a custard and therefore has to set up, by re-baking it inside the cake it liquified and basically turned into a pool of mushy goo.

I'm going with the second one.
It was no major disaster for me that it didn't end up in the cake.
To me it seems out of place to stick a spice cake and a custard pie in the midst of two fruit pies.
Next time I'm going with peach in a white cake instead of pumpkin.

While it looks like I am praying over my monster pie cake, perhaps asking that the soul of the deceased spice cake layer be safe in Heaven, no, I am not praying over pastry.....

I was tweeting.

Here is the finished product, a Cherple.

Kind of  like a two-layer train wreck of delightful baked confection.
It was also heavy as all get out. As in, heavy to carry.
I think I pulled a muscle between the van and Mom's house.

Oh, the taste?
One word:


And apparently, besides tickling your taste buds, it also has powers we knew not of beforehand.

It has the ability to make grown men wear silly hats and hair accessories while they play Guitar Hero.

Hey, it's a rule that when you play Guitar Hero you must wear something on your head.
The men were not about to let the kids and teens beat them at video games, so
they donned fedoras, African animal ears and farm animal sock hats in order to participate.

I think it was all because of the Cherpumple.


We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...