Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (I goofed!!!)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Photo from

I was in Shelby recently and my friend PJ made some delicious zucchini nut bread.  When I got home I noticed the bounty of zucchini at the Farmer's Market so I bought some.  Later while  looking through my Penzey's magazine, I found this recipe for chocolate zucchini cake, and I thought it the perfect recipe for using  the zucchini.
  • 1/2 Cup margarine or butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 13/4 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 Cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup buttermilk or sour milk (1/2 Cup milk plus 1 tsp. white vinegar = sour milk)
  • 21/2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Cups grated zucchini, peeled if desired, drained (about 2 medium)
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 325° (for a glass pan) or 350° (for a metal pan). In a mixing bowl, cream together the room temperature margarine/butter and sugar. Add the oil, eggs, VANILLA and buttermilk and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the flour, COCOA, baking soda, CINNAMON and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in the zucchini. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the top of the cake. Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 35-50 minutes
Serves: 12-15

Gather your ingredients.


Cream butter and sugar.
Cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs,oil, vanilla, and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients.

Mix dry ingredients.
Dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients.
Fold in grated zucchini.

Fold in grated zucchini.
Out of the oven.

The cake has the consistency of brownies rather than cake. 

Mine came out with the consistency of brownies---not light as cake should have been.  What went wrong? 

As I looked back over the recipe I discovered that I had added baking powder instead of baking soda.  When I googled to see if it is possible to substitute baking powder for baking soda I learned that yes, that is possible, but when doing so one should add 4 times the amount of baking powder.  I had added only 1 tsp of baking powder and I should have added 4 tsps.  (Well actually I should have added baking soda as the recipe called for---must have been having a "senior moment".)

Mistake number two:  When I was measuring the flour I discovered that I had only a cup of all purpose flour. Not wanting to make a run to the grocery store, I remembered I had some whole wheat flour in the freezer, so I substituted 1 1/2 cups of this in place of the all purpose flour.  After seeing that the cake was too dense, I thought perhaps it was because of the whole wheat flour substitution.  Sure enough, when I googled, I learned that when substituting whole wheat flour for plain flour use about 3/4 cup of whole wheat for each 1 cup of all purpose flour.  I didn't reduce the amount of whole wheat flour but used the full amount called for in the recipe.  

Another "senior moment", I forgot to add the vanilla.  That didn't affect the texture, but it did affect the flavor.  There is cinnamon in the cake so the cake was flavorful but the flavor would have been better with the vanilla.

Well one thing, Dan loves brownies, so he thinks the "brownies" are good.  I will make this recipe again though making sure I follow the recipe exactly---no substitutions. 
Check out this recipe at  I get all my spices at Penzeys.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

July Fourth Party at Louie and Cece's

When we were gadding about in Cleveland County over the Fourth of July weekend, we attended a party hosted by my niece and her husband, Cece and Louie at their lovely home on Chatfield Rd.  It was a great opportunity to visit with family and friends.
Louie welcoming guests. 

Dan and Andy (my grand nephew).

Cece and Louie's daughter Laura.

Sisters: Kelly and Cece.

 And to have some delicious barbecue prepared by my brother-in-law, Hal.

Barbecue and other delicious food.

The children especially enjoyed the pool, and even the smallest ones were able to float around safely and some of the small ones were already jumping off the diving board.
Brayton enjoying the water.

Cason ready to jump. 
Kristen and Brayton (my great grand nephew).

Cason (my great grand nephew) out of the pool.

What's a party without a game of cornhole?

Thank you Cece and Louie.  We had a marvelous time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fourth of July Parade in Small Town America

Lattimore is a small town in Cleveland County, North Carolina, and each year the town has an old-fashioned Fourth of July parade.  I'm partial to this little town, because that is where I attended school for twelve years.  Back then I'm pretty sure they didn't have a parade on the Fourth, but for some time now this has been a tradition.
PJ waiting for parade.

I happened to be in Cleveland County this year for the Fourth, and my friend PJ and I found us a shady spot along Main Street to view the parade.  Folks began lining up along the parade route early in the morning anticipating the 9:00 am event.
This pretty little miss is decked out in patriotic colors.

The Fites waiting for the parade in front of The Depot restaurant.

Many folks from the older to the very young were decked out in patriotic colors.  It was great for "people watching" even before the parade began.

I love this hat.

The youth from Lattimore Baptist Church were selling biscuits along Main Street before the parade began, and I had my opportunity to have a livermush biscuit.  So good!!!!!

My livermush biscuit.
And then a little after nine along came the parade.  
Here comes the parade.

There was the color guard and then vehicles of all kinds--- vintage cars, lawn mowers, tractors---, people walking and those on horseback.

Huge tractor from the Greene Farms.  (Photo by Peggy Rhyne.)

Fire truck. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)

Vintage car. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)
What's a parade without horses?

After the parade folks gathered over at the ball field for food, games, and more celebration. red, white and blue. (She was one of Martha Mason's caretakers)

Ann, Steve and grandaughter Caroline.

Libby with her grands.

Mrs. Cooper the grand marshal of the parade. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)

This is the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blackberry Picking Then and Now

Blackberries ready for a pie.

When I was back in Cleveland County recently, wild blackberries were ripe, and I was reminded of the days I picked berries when I was a kid growing up there.  My sister, our friend and I would go out early in the morning on a July day and pick berries where they grew along the railroad track near our house.  Often we would encounter black snakes and always we would be bitten by chiggers.  We didn't mind, because we knew by lunch time Mama would have made a blackberry pie or cobbler from our bounty.  And how we loved blackberry pie! 

I passed by the railroad track where now the sides of the track are sprayed and there are no blackberries growing there today.

The railroad track where I picked berries as a kid.
We lived out in the country near my grandparent's farm.  The farm and the one adjacent have been bought by a blackberry company out of Georgia and the fields that were once planted in cotton have been replaced by fields of commercial blackberries.  I stopped and took some photos and I must say there was a bumper crop of berries. 

Blackberry fields where cotton once grew.

A bountiful crop of commercial blackberries.

I did have a chance to pick a few berries though over along the road near my friend Peggy Jean's house.  Not enough for a pie though.

Picking a few wild blackberries over near Peggy Jean's house.

When we returned to Raleigh, I kept thinking about those blackberries and about a blackberry cobbler.  I went right over to the Farmer's Market and bought enough berries to make a pie---no black snakes to worry about and no chiggers.  It's not quite the same though.  As a child I felt a great deal of accomplishment in picking a bucket of berries to take home for a pie.

Blackberries from the Farmer's Market.
As I was looking over recipes for a blackberry cobbler on the internet, I discovered the Pioneer Woman's blog.
The Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler. (Photo from her blog site.)

I'm going to use her recipe when I make a blackberry cobbler later this morning.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3 bags in 3 days

Cartoon by Amber Waite from her blog Voluntary Simplicity is a Lifestyle
I'm starting small.  Dan and I realize that we have a lot of decluttering to do.  This recent article in the News and Observer inspired me to try this but on a very small scale---3 bags in 3 days and then I could start over for another 3 days, etc.

Day One:  A bag full of books that will go to a library. 

A bag of books ready for a library.
This was a really big bag and it weighed a lot.  We have lots of books we need to purge.

Day Two:  Fabric and shoes.  I've had this fabric around in the garage that we are redoing using it to cover the fronts of shelves, and we are going to put doors on those shelves so this fabric had to go.  I need to go through my shoes again though and get rid of more.
Fabric and shoes ready to take to the thrift shop.
Day Three:  Magazines and Newspapers.   I tend to keep magazine thinking I will need to read them again, but I've decided to stop that.  If there are things in the magazines like recipes, I will remove them from the magazines and then recycle the magazines along with the newspapers.
A bag of newspapers and magazines ready to put in the recycle bin. 

I'm sure these three bags must total at least 30 lbs of less clutter in the house now.  So at least I've made a start at this 3 bags in 3 days decluttering mission.

Maybe when 3 bags for 3 days becomes a habit, I will expand to a longer span, perhaps 7 bags in 7 days.  Slowly but surely we will declutter.