Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Basic Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Sip & Savor: Drinks for Party and Porch
Serves 12-16

As featured on Instagram! 

Farmer's Note: I nearly always substitute buttermilk for milk in batters (pancakes, other cakes, etc.), even in scrambled eggs. Since chocolate's natural flavor is enhanced by coffee, I use one cup of hot coffee in the batter as well. 

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk (shaken, not stirred)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Combine all the dry ingredients, except coffee, in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and beat together for 2 minutes. (Sample the batter before you add the coffee). Add coffee and mix until incorporated; the batter will be thin. (Try the batter now; the chocolate has intensified.)

Divide the batter between the two pans and bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pans. Cool completely. Frost with the icing of your choice. Cookies and Cream Icing is one of my favorites!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Farmdale Update!

Well, y’all, it has been a while since I’ve blogged about Farmdale. If any of y’all have built a house from the ground up, then you know that the stress, anxiety, worry, decisions and minutia associated therein… and that is just in picking out door hardware!

And, the construction progress has taken longer than projected, cost more than expected and sent me into the near NBD (nervous breakdown) mode many – MANY - a time. So, in all honesty, the joy of the journey even feels robbed or tarnished… but… somehow – somewhere –  there is a turning point. Is that turning point when you see your marble counter tops installed in your bathroom? Is it when the interior doors are hung? Is it when that stack of lumber in your dining room suddenly disappears because it is now your trim, baseboards and door casings. Maybe it is…

Maybe it is when you order gravel for your new driveway. That’s honestly what it was for – a literal turning point. I literally was turning my suburban around and around to map out the driveway. That is the turning point proper for me with Farmdale.

I sited my house along an axis with a large Red Oak tree. For a few years, I have noticed this tree in the woods and thought it would be great to line a house with it – especially capturing the tree from the home’s entry and vice versa. Construction crews, water and nature make their own trails and drives, thus I had to remind myself of the original idea I had for the driveway and approach to Farmdale. I wanted a flair off of our main drive that leads to my aunt and uncle’s home, a roundabout around the Red Oak tree and an axial lineup with Farmdale Lane and Farmdale proper.

This idea gives me pockets to plant trees and shrubs and tons of ferns one day. The drive then meanders on to the one day carport, future motor court and  prospective, potential and hopeful guest house. Emphasis y’all on the words one day, future and prospective, potential and hopeful!!!

All in all, a turnaround of sorts happened on Farmdale Lane. Let’s hope for continued progression, y’all! In the meantime, here are some pics of the latest happenings. Marble and tiles in the showers and bathroom floors, Benjamin Moore “Linen White” on just about every wall (grasscloth will be on every sheetrock wall of course), pine shiplap paneling in the kitchen and as wainscoting in the living room and dining room, heart pine floors down and awaiting sanding and finishing and beams and more cabinets coming in soon!

And… I’m hosting an engagement party next weekend… y’all pray we have running water! It’ll be a memorial time for sure!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baby Napp's Birthday!!

My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”

Oh, Mr. Conroy. Your words about our Southland are inked perfectly. And perfect words for many an occasion – Baby Napp’s second birthday notwithstanding.

When you are a child of the Low Country, and Bluffton’s marshes, rivers and light all ebb and flow daily, Pat Conroy’s entre into his novel, The Prince of Tides, is all too apropos.

“I grew up slowly beside the tides and marshes of Colleton; my arms tawny and strong from working long days on the shrimp boat in the blazing South Carolina heat…  I was born and raised on a Carolina sea island and I carried the sunshine of the low-country, inked in dark gold, on my back and shoulders. As a boy I was happy about the channels, navigating a small boat between sandbars with their quiet nation of oysters exposed on the brown flats at the low watermark. I knew every shrimper by name, and they knew me and sounded their horns when they passed me fishing in the river.”

With those words, I reflect back on this child’s little life – yet a grand one in return. William Napp Yelton came to us at a perfect time. Not just a perfect time but as a “good and perfect gift.” God knew that we would need Napp – thus boundless joy, hope springing eternally, the precious love of a child for us all to bask in and the never ceasing delight this child brought to us – for what was in store in the coming months.

What would be better than celebrating this Low Country boy than with an oyster roast and fixins too from his Georgia roots too! Every day, I wonder with selfish hope if Maggie and Zach will call and say, “Guess what, Brubbs, we’re moving back to Perry!” And every time I am in Bluffton, I see the sun set over the May River, watching the cadence of light and sky over the marshes turning light into liquid. I taste the salt air as it fills my lungs with sulphurous perfume delectable only to us Southerners soulfully surrendered to the Low Country’s spell. And, I know these salty airs rise from brackish waters filling our bellies with jewels of the river and sea. I taste and see and inhale the Carolina Low Country and know that particular call from my sister and brother-in-law is not coming anytime soon.

So… we must go to them. And gladly do so. And roast oysters, pile chicken salad upon platters, fill bowls with barbeque and serve pans of pimento cheese. As Mr. Conroy also said, “There are no ideas in the South, just barbeque.” I couldn’t agree more! Ha!

Y’all enjoy a journey to Bluffton with these pics of Baby Napp’s second birthday. As in true Southern tradition, we’ll probably keep calling him Baby Napp well into his forties. We can’t help our ways down here, we’re wounded by geography. Happy Birthday, Baby Napp! Uncle Brubbs loves you to the moon and back and back again! And then back again and again!

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