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Archive for September, 2009

Great Reading

Here’s another author/book recommendation for you.  I stumbled upon a blog earlier this year and really enjoyed the lady’s writing.  She was smart and funny.  Her bio listed her occupation as an author so I went to my local library to see if they were available.  They did have one and I checked it out immediately and really enjoyed it.  The name of the book is Between, Georgia and the author is Joshilyn Jackson. 

She is a Southern writer to the core.  Being from the deep South, she “knows” these characters personally.  It is a complex story of 3 generations of one family in a very small town called “Between, Georgia”.

I received her other 2 books for my birthday back in July and just finished reading them both.  Those are Gods In Alabama and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.  Both were excellent, but I think my favorite is The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.  I can’t even begin to describe it, but it weaves family drama, mystery and almost a little horror into one story.  It was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down until it was finished.

If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, please check these out.  You won’t be disappointed!  Also, check out her website, www.joshilynjackson.com which contains her blog.

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Once we were done in the mountains, we toured Gatlinburg itself.  The shop buildings in this little town are quaint and cute.  They remind me a little of an alpine mountain town.

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One of the places we had planned to go was the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  If you are ever in the area, you really need to go here.  It was wonderful!  It has something for every age group.  This would be a wonderful place to take a school or church group.  We loved it!

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We did a lot of walking through Gatlinburg.  There were numerous attractions that we just did not have time to get to, but they looked like they would be fun as well.

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Next stop…Pigeon Forge.

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In a previous post, I mentioned that Good Eats was my favorite show on the Food Network.  The host, Alton Brown, always makes the recipes interesting and entertaining as well as informative.  There were several of his recipes that I wanted to try, but one thing was holding me back…a food scale!  In most of his baked goods recipes, he measures by weight instead of volume.  Well, problem be gone!

C’s parents gave me a food scale for my birthday, so here is my first attempt at one of Mister Brown’s cake recipes.  He calls this “Gold Cake”, because it is a homemade version of “yellow cake”.  Don’t be fooled, the texture of this cake is much lighter than a box mix.  Instead of two 9 inch cakes, I decided to make cupcakes.  The cooking time is the same and the recipe will make 24 cupcakes.

The chocolate frosting recipe was one that I already had.  It is Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting.  I used 3 different decorator’s tips to frost these just for fun. 

For the cupcakes:

3/4 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening

300 grams sugar (1 1/4 cup)

300 grams sifted cake flour (2 1/2 cups)

14 grams baking powder (3 tsp)

1/4 tsp salt

8 egg yolks, beaten

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners (or use two 9 inch cake pans, greased).  Cream together the shortening and the sugar.

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Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly alternate adding the egg yolks and milk with the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Add vanilla and mix well.

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Scoop about 1/3 cup of batter into each cupcake liner.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

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For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

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Melt butter and stir in cocoa.  Alternately add sugar and milk, beating on medium speed until the frosting reaches spreading consistency.  Add a little more milk or sugar to change the consistency if necessary.

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I used a decorator’s tip on a zip top bag to frost these.  The first tip is a number 199.  Here’s what it can do.  Remember, decorating is really NOT my strong suit.  I like to do it for fun.

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Then I switched to a number 29.

 

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The final tip was number 5.

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Yum!  I can’t wait to dig in to these. 

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Smoky Mountain Weekend

Last weekend, C & I took a short vacation to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  C had been there years ago and I had never been.  We had a blast!  We had a beautiful drive down on Thursday until we got to Knoxville, then the rain started.  I was never so glad to see a Hampton Inn in my life! 

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Friday was a very full day! This may turn out to be a multiple post story. We started the morning by driving up in to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  How amazing was this?  Sugarland Visitors Center welcomed us with maps, information, and a small park museum.

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We decided to go all the way to the highest point in the park which is Clingman’s Dome.  On a clear day, you are supposed to be able to see 100 miles and 7 states.  Well, that was not to be that day.  This sign said it all.

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We would drive and stop and drive and stop.  There were pull-offs at the scenic stops.  There was water everywhere, but I couldn’t find a good place from which to shoot.  Wait, the Chimney Tops trailhead was dead ahead.  I found what I was looking for there, only about 200 feet from the road.  I love water and could have stayed here for hours.

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We pulled off at another overlook and I happened to turn around and look at the rock wall on the other side of the road, and what appeared before my eyes?  A face!

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The next stop was Morton Overlook.  On the trip up the mountain, there was dense fog hanging in the air.  When we traveled back down a couple of hours later, the air had cleared and you could see for a long, long way.

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At Newfound Gap, we started our multi-state vacation as this is the location of the Tennessee-North Carolina state lines.  The view would be amazing on clear days.  We weren’t so lucky.  We were starting to see the difference in the elevations though.  The types of trees and plants that grow were starting to change.  The temperature was much cooler and there was a stiff wind blowing.  This area also is part of the Appalachian Trail.  We can now say that we have hiked part of the App Trail, if only about 20 feet of it!

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Now it was on to Clingman’s Dome! I was so excited!  The elevation there is 6600 feet above sea level.  Where we live is about 600 feet above sea level.

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You are able to drive most of the way, but the last half mile is a steep walk on a paved path.  Here is where you can really tell that the air is thinner.  There are benches placed every .05 of a mile on the path, and believe me, they come in handy when you are not used to the atmosphere.  It was worth it though.  I really wish it had been clearer, but we can still say that we have been to the top.

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It was only 55 degrees at the dome, the wind was blowing and there was a nasty little rain falling.  When we arrived back in Gatlinburg, the sun was shining and it was 82 degrees. The trip down was much faster than the trip up the mountain.  We still stopped to snap a few shots, but the traffic was much worse coming down than up.  I really enjoyed this and would like to have the time to explore more of this beautiful country.

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Come back soon for more of our trip!

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Wordless Wednesday

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