Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Toffee Torte

It occurred to me late in the process to take pictures. Maybe next time I will think to show the steps … and the mess. But this cake is worth the extras.

A recipe for Toffee Torte, adapted to make it my own, or as my daughter says, "I strayed." I usually do.

2 2/3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 c. softened butter
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
[recipe calls for 2 t. instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 c. boiling water but I used espresso from a coffee maker and added water to equal 1 cup]

10 Skor or Heath bars, or use a bag of the crushed toffee for between layers and 2–3 crushed candy bars for the top of cake
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
1/2 t. coffee granules in 1/2 teaspoon water (optional; I use strong coffee that has cooled)
3 T. light brown sugar

Grease and flour 2 cake pans, 9" round or as pictured, square.

If you dare, use 3 8" pans and cut each layer so that you will have a total of 6 layers. I have done this, and the cake is a lot harder to handle.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with buttermilk. Then add slowly the 1 c. boiling water/coffee and beat on medium for 2 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees until cake tests done (springs in the middle), about 25-30 minutes.

When cake has cooled completely, slice layers in half.

Next beat whipping cream. Add the teaspoon of coffee, then continue mixing, adding 1 T. of brown sugar at a time, beating until stiff.

Place first layer of cake, top side down. Frost with whipped cream and then sprinkle generously with toffee bits. Repeat, ending with top side up of second layer. Whipped cream covers a multitude of mistakes, even uneven layers:)

Frost the sides of cake with the Chocolate/coffee icing first, and then put the remaining whipped cream mixture on top. Cover with crushed toffee candy.

Here's where I change things up. Instead of frosting the whole cake with whipped cream, I make a chocolate/coffee icing.

Frosting for sides of cake:
3 T. melted butter
3 T. cocoa
dash of salt
3 T. half and half
3 T. strong coffee
4 + cups of powdered sugar, blend until consistency for spreading

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yum. And if you have left-over cake, be sure to put it back in the fridge. You can eat it for breakfast.

Made for special friends on a special occasion, I decided to use my square cake pedestal. But round works, too.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Julia Child inspired me to cook breakfast.

My first effort:

Now how hard was that?

I didn't get the giggling, flipping part down. My husband said Julia probably practiced a hundred times, a reference to the onion scene in the movie, Julie & Julia. She was obsessed, and I love her for it.

I forgot to add the parsley, but the omelette was light and tasty and my husband didn't even add picante sauce.

The incredible, edible egg–Julia style.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

As the Dryer Tumbles

In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen. And it hardly ever rains in Lubbock, America.

Greeted by the sound of thud-thud-thud coming from the laundry room as I walked in the back door, my daughter’s face told a story before the words came out.

“The twins left their tennis shoes outside. Both pairs.”

The rest of the story: It rained overnight. Older brother, Dax, had gone searching this morning with a flashlight. He found 7 of the 8 tennis shoes, two pair by the trampoline and the other pairs by the riding toys.

Thud-thud-thud. Hard to keep from laughing.

Since their dad is out of town for Corporate Convention, I had come to help with morning routine.

You may know the drill, the frenzied hurry up and eat and dress and get your lunch box and jacket and backpack and out the door by 7:35 am.

The older children have to be at school by 8:00, the twins by 9:00 (same location across town), and the mother at her Bible study Leader’s meeting by 9:15.

Oh, and Dax had to turn in a special project, a 5-foot crane on wheels that his dad helped him build. But Mom had to get it out of the car, in the building, up the elevator and to the classroom.

Harrowing hardships hardly happen when both parents are at home.

Finding a Church

I posted a blog on bible.org today.


Monday, September 21, 2009

A Fair to Remember

Last Friday, I entered this picture of Mt. McKinley in the Amarillo Tri-State Fair. I still get goosebumps thinking about our flight in a small plane and the miracle of seeing the mountain at all, much less capturing this image. Mt. McKinley in Alaska is the tallest peak in North America.

The judge awarded a 2nd place ribbon; prize money gets divided among all entrants. Yippee.

But I also entered in the Portrait category. When my daughter told her husband that the picture of them did not win, he said, "This was not a Fair to remember."

Friday, September 11, 2009

L'chaim or Death

What’s up with this? Nine out of 35 of this week’s NYT Mass-market paperback bestsellers have the word “dead” in the title. Several others allude to death as the subject matter.

One reason this caught my eye has to do with what I read yesterday in Philip Yancey’s book, Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church.

In the chapter about G.K. Chesterton, Yancey writes, “Chesterton himself said that the modern age is characterized by a sadness that calls for a new kind of prophet, not like prophets of old who reminded people that they were going to die, but someone who reminded them they are not dead yet.”

Pow! That bullet whizzed past my head, waking me up.

Back in 2005, when I read Soul Survivor for the first time, I had seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994) on television the night before I came upon this enlightening paragraph. In the margin of my book, I noted what the character played by Morgan Freeman had said.

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.”

I was in seminary at the time. I thought I was gonna die. I decided to act on the truth: I'm not dead yet.

So what’s up with this post-modern preoccupation with death in music, movies and books? Can you feel the sadness? Smell the despair? Feel the pain?

Some funereal tone signifying approaching apocalypse threatens to eclipse the light of the message that Chesterton upheld to his own generation. He was jovial, full of life rather than preoccupied with gloomy forecasts.

Writer, philosopher, humorist and Christian apologist, Chesterton sparred with contemporaries George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and Sigmund Freud to defend the faith. Yancey said, "He took on, in person and in print, anyone who dared interpret the world apart from God and Incarnation."

Chesterton wrote Orthodoxy, which Publisher's Weekly classified as one of 10 "indispensable spiritual classics" of the past 1500 years.


Philip Yancey carried that same light-dispersing torch when he highlighted the life of G.K. Chesterton, a man who understood that “a stern prophet will rarely break through to a society full of religion’s cultured despisers.”


I just read a poem on The Writer's Almanac called "Home by Now."
Its author recounts her move to New Hampshire from NYC, ending with these chilling lines.

… Your friends in the city
say they'll miss you but don't blame you--they
still cringe each time a plane's overhead,
one ear cocked for the other shoe.

Praying there will never be another shoe …

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Why don't she write?"

A few weeks in our new house, built in 1973, most of the boxes have made it out the door. We can park one car in the garage. I should be doing a happy dance.

While I no longer wend my way through manmade canyons, it’s the little foxes that threaten my undoing (cf. Song of Solomon 2:15). My computer working, but I do not. No chunks of time set aside to write. I feel guilty.

In Frankfurt, my husband lived in an apartment across the street from a university named for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe—Germany’s counterpart to Italy’s Leonardo Da Vinci. Goethe wrote Faust, which begs the question, did the author consider selling his soul to the devil?

I told my husband that two things hinder me writing fiction. One, I have spent my life determined to tell the truth. He said, “You’re the only person I know who footnotes conversation.”

“That’s right,” I said, “because I want people to know that ideas and words wise and wonderful did not originate with me.”

“So what’s the second reason?”

“You know how I hate to be misunderstood.”

While unpacking boxes in the dining room, I came across a wine bottle that my husband’s friend from Germany had brought for my graduation. A thoughtful gift to encourage me to keep writing, this unique bottle has a 4x3 inch porcelain cameo of Goethe, a keepsake both for its beauty and sentiment.

The Writer’s Almanac spotlighted Goethe this week, and I liked this quote:

“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Looking at its sad appearance who would think that those stiff branches, those jagged twigs would turn green again and blossom and bear fruit next spring; but we hope they will, we know they will.”

The Daily Literary Quote on Google from a couple of days ago, I copied to a sticky-note.

“A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself; it is a child of solitude.” Goethe.

Solitude. That explains it.