Martha Thinks

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The University Tour

Having only two weeks to decide on his final choice, son #2 convinced dad #1 to fly to on out to Indiana and Wisconsin, rent cars and hotel rooms and tour the chosen colleges before making his final decision.
An expensive, but necessary venture. Dad #1 did not get injured on the trip, that happened before ; )

Starting off at Purdue University, here is a pretty fountain that lights up at night...

very collegiate looking building...

Purdue Belltower...

busy Engineering lab...

hey, that's Neil Armstrong!  Yup, he's a Purdue alum.

and finally my kid under the welcoming canopy of Purdue University.

On to the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

beautiful green campus...
lovely architecture

and attractive buildings...

set on a pretty lake in the foreground..

and homecoming gifts of a Wisconsin Badger and a baseball cap from Purdue for his little brother.
He spent a week going back and forth, pros and cons, and drum roll please.  .  .
He has decided to become a future Boilermaker,  
Purdue University, Class of 2016
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Coffee

I am about to consume gallons. Husband and middle son are leaving on a jet plane to explore colleges that he has been admitted to, trying to decide who will be lucky enough to get him. (hey, just a mom's perspective!~) Youngest son is having a little outpatient procedure on Wednesday and it's up to me to provide all of the comfort.
Dog will be looking at me to provide all walks and feedings.
Birds will expect me to fill feeder.
New plants will need lots of water in the expected heat this week.
Being a mom requires a lot of patience, love, guidance, deep breaths and coffee!
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bird Talk

"hey, how's it going?"
"nice that she filled the feeders up, eh?"
"yeah, and I love that she bought finch food. i am not just any wildbird and need my own food."
"looking for a place to nest?"
"she got hip to my favorite place from last year, right above her back door. so there was a little bird poop on her deck? and we made a huge commotion every time she opened the door? and she was afraid she was going to step on a baby bird? no biggie. it's what we do. this year she stuffed plastic bags where I had the nest last year so I need to find a new "nest". Oh well, she does feed us. "
Oh your birds don't talk?
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I can hear the beating drum...

the footsteps, the inevitable march towards - high school graduation in June. I did not take this picture, in fact I do not even know who did. I must find out and give them credit!
These sweet faces have been such a big part of the whole story for my son and for each other, I think, that I am already stocking up my Kleenex supply thinking of that day in June that will be the last day they are officially together in one place. The beginning of another story for all of them will come with college and new friends. And yet I can't help but wish time could stand still for just a little bit longer. It's been a great, great experience knowing them.
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Excellent Adventure - Frosting!

If I don't end up working in the baking biz, I am going to wear myself out just with the classes! Here are some dee-licious cupcakes from tonight's class, Making Frosting From Scratch at We learned Cream Cheese Buttercream, Peanut Butter Buttercream, Italian Meringue Buttercream and Raspberry Buttercream. There were only two of us in class tonight, so we also learned a little bit about fondant and spent some time rolling it out and cutting out shapes.

Basically it's like a total massage for your brain. Fun and relaxing.

I signed up for two classes and they happen to be back to back, so tomorrow night I will be at it again for Buttercream Basics, which will involve decorating a cake.

Some of the themes overlap, but that's ok. It's all good. It's all VERY good.
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Excellent Adventure - Cakes!

The last class in the series was cakes. They saved the best for last. Here coconut cupcakes are being made. Buttermilk, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, butter, toasted coconut...

The best...and I'm not just saying that...the BEST cupcake I have ever had.

Here are carrot cakes waiting to be put together.

I thought this bin was funny. Like whoops, there it is. The magical components all within this box. Pull any of them out and something wonderful will happen.

Double mixers whipping like mad. One held raspberry filling for the center of the chocolate cupcakes and one was whipping the heck out egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, white chocolate, butter and vanilla to make an awesome buttercream frosting.

These were DIVINE little bundt cakes (don't you just always think of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" whenever you say bundt cake?) made of Sour Cream Citrus Poundcake with Lemon Glaze. Think of a summer day, a bridal shower - or even better transported to "Downton Abbey" having a cup of tea.

One of the things I learned that I didn't really think about before...since I have to admit I can't remember the last time I made a layer cake at to have a professional looking cake, you "lose the dome". Chef Louise told us that in a bakery other things would be made from the "dome" but in this case, I brought it home and again...fabu. The top was crunchy and the inside was soft. It was just great just like that.

Another intrepid baker selected Queen Mother's Cake, otherwise known as a flourless chocolate torte. A ganache of heavy cream, powdered coffee, semi-sweet chocolate and corn syrup was poured over the top. And do you think that's enough?? - nope! Melted milk chocolate and white chocolate were put into piping bags and a design was swirled on the top.

A beautiful sight. All cakes are proudly displayed and shared. Pastry boxes are put together and we are all able to take a bit of everything home to share with family and friends. It is the testament of a great teacher to take students of all different baking levels and make us all very proud of our end result.

This is mine! I chose a White Wine Cake with Chocolate Buttercream frosting. Make that Chocolate and Dark Rum Buttercream frosting. I will tell you that I found making buttercream a little difficult. Jockeying when to beat the egg whites with melting the chocolate with bringing the sugar water to a soft ball stage (238 degrees)...whew...I did it in the wrong order and Chef decided that my first batch of beaten egg whites had been waiting too long and were starting to separate.

They can't be "re-beaten" so I had to start again. But I got the hang of it and after all, practice makes perfect and it's a little naive to think I will master all of the skills right away. (much as my inner Virgo wants to)

This was the last cake to the table. It was a temperature issue. Ideally we learned, the cakes would be made at least a day ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen before frosting. In our class the cakes were still a little bit warm when the frosting hit them, so this masterpiece of lemon cake with lemon curd filling was leaking just a bit. But gorgeous nonetheless.

There are many ways to learn, I have found. This once a week 4-hour class was perfect for me. The class was small, the Chef was informative, approachable and was open to any and all flavor variables and suggestions in whatever we were making. She was a delight. Not sure if that is a professional term for an instructor, but it's true.
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