Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baking Up a Storm

Right after I finished the last blog we went shopping for some more inside decorations for Christmas, and most especially for New Years Eve.  Every year we have 24 people coming for what we call our New York New Years Eve party.  Our house will only hold 24 people.  It is pretty fun, actually,  and all the same people come each year.  The only way we can invite anyone new is for someone to either move away or die, as everyone is invited for each New Years until either Dick or I die.  One of our friends lost his wife  last year and another one lost her husband, so that left two that we could invite, so we invited Jim and Sue Pike.

 So far everyone is coming.  It is pot luck and every year everyone brings the same thing, so our menu never really changes.  Everyone really looks forward to this party each year, so nothing ever changes with everyone coming unless they get sick. 

We eat at exactly 6:00 p.m. and after we are through eating, everyone helps with moving all the tables away and then we have circle time, which we borrowed from Sue.  We ask everyone a fun question and after Dick and I have had our turn, everyone all around the circle answers the question. This year we are going to ask a question that will have all of us laughing, which should be fun.  It also gives us a chance to know something about everyone that we have never heard before.  I hope it will be a success and you will  know all about it in my first post after the New Year.

This is the main table which seats only eight.  This photo was taken in 2010

Looking across the main table to two of the four card tables we set up

This is the main table that we had last year 2011

Setting up for circle time

A shot of our decorated coffee table from last year

I have actually been very busy this month, which is why I haven't posted before.  I was quite amazed when I found out that I hadn't posted at all this month.

The first week in December was a very busy one.  Monday night was a High Priest party at the Pikes.  Tuesday was a birthday luncheon at the church for all the birthdays in December.  I was going to be smart and bake something on Monday for both parties, so I baked a choco brownie cake for the evening party and a cheese cake for the Tuesday luncheon at 12:00 noon.  I don't know where my brain was but I forgot to put the timer on for the cheese cake and promptly forgot about it.  When I suddenly remembered that it seemed like a long time, I went to the kitchen, looked at the cheesecake and it was way over baked!  I was so mad because I didn't really have time to bake anything else, so knew I was going to have to do it Tuesday morning.  The choco brownie cake turned out beautifully, as it always has.  I am going to bake one tomorrow morning and divide it into two 9" cake pans.  I think I will give you the recipe as it really is a wonderful chocolate cake:

Choco Brownie Cake:

1 cube butter at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 Tablesoons cocoa
l cup water
Cook the above ingredients in saucepan on medium just until it comes to a boil.
Then pour over 2 cups flour and 2 cups of sugar which has been sifted together and placed in large bowl of mixer.

Mix well and then add in order given:
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda just sprinkled into other ingredients
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour into either a greased and lightly floured 9x 13 pan or two 9" round cake pans, that have been greased and lightly floured
Bake for 25 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Icing for above:
1 1/4 cubes butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
Cook in the same pan as you boiled in above.  When it comes to a boil, pour into large pan that you have put 1 lb pkg powdered sugar.  Mix thoroughly with mixer and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped walnuts.  You should ice cake while it is still warm.  I usually take it out of the oven and put it one rack if I am baking it in the one large pan, or on two racks it I am doing it in the round cake pans.  Then I ice the one large cake with all of the icing, or if doing two small cakes, I divide the icing in two parts.  If I am doing two small cakes, I put them on large dinner size paper plates or if I do the big one, I just ice it right in the pan.  Of course if you want to do a big round cake you ice the whole thing in the regular way.  I always use the same mixer for both the cake and the icing, so of course I have to wash both the mixer and the pan before I make the icing.

On Tuesday I just made my brownie recipe (from scratch, of course) and iced it with the above icing.  Both affairs were really nice, but I was almost too tired to really enjoy them.

I had really decided to rest all of Wednesday and I completely forgot that we had promised a couple of friends of ours who had asked us if we could take them over to Palm Springs to see the Festival of Lights.  This couple has lots of problems.  He has fallen lots and the last time he fell he broke his pelvis, so it has been a slow recovery.  He is almost 91, and she is quite blind.  The doctor has told him that he cannot drive anymore.  I felt so bad when she called us to see what time we were going to pick them up.  I was really too tired still, so we pomised them we would have them over for dinner on Monday and then we would drive them over to see the lights.  This guy that has these lights every year but he has a big huge gate around his whole place and the things to see are really   inside.  He has 4 acres and he had a lot of Santas and robots plus other types of decorations.  Do you know that just about 5:00 when they were supposed to have come for dinner, she called and said she wouldn't be home until around 8:00.  She had gone to Loma Linda for her husband's medicine and she had asked her next door neighbor if she would drive her.  Her neighbor had a lot of other towns that she had to go to and Rosemary just had to go along.  So we tried to got Don to come over for dinner anyway.  We had the table all set for them, but he decided to wait for Rosemary, so they came the second night and had lefovers with us.  Our left overs were pretty good though.  We had left over roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, and choco brownie cake for dessert.  Then we went to Palm Springs.  The gates were all lighted all around the property and we could see the tall Santa and a huge lighted pole from the front gate, which was also beuatifully decorated.  I don't quite think it was worth the drive, but we did stop on our way over in Cathedral City where one street is always decorated each year.  They call it candy cane lane and of course even the streets are decorated with the candy canes all lighted up.  They are the size of the street lamps.  It really is worth the trip over and we always go there each year.

Wednesday we went visiting teaching and I had to make two carrot pineapple cakes to take with us.  Then this morning I had to make two more carrot cakes to give one to another lady we visit and home teach and then the other one went to some friends of ours who had previously brought us some cinnamon rolls.  We stopped there and had a piece of cake with them and then went shopping.  We did manage to find a beautiful wreath for our front door that we will try to put up tomorrow.  We came home and I made another oatmeal thing with some left over pumpkin which I think Dick was cutting to flash freeze when I made him come and post the pictures we took last year of our New Years Eve party.  That pretty much brings us up to date.  You can see why I am tired and tomorrow we are baking 12 Danish Pastry tea rings which take almost all day.  I am also baking another choco brownie cake.  All this stuff is for our family.  Saturday we will be delivering a big box to our oldest daughter, Nancy.  She also works a good half day and we will be taking it early Saturday morning to her office in Anaheim.  At least we won't have to take it to her home which is in Huntington Beach.  We will stop at one of our favorite resturaunts in Riverside on the way home.  Sunday Dick will be at the church all day long doing some last minute tithing settlements and Monday morning about 5:00 a.m. we will be leaving for Sue's in Saratoga for Christmas.  After a couple of days in Saratoga we will go to our third daughter, Nikki's in Oak Park, which is near Agoura Hills.  We will barely get home sometime Saturday, to set up for our New York New Years Eve.  It makes me tired just reading this.  I'm finall finished, yes I am...........with love to all, ..........................Darlene


  1. Wow! That was quite a post!! You really made up for lost time and caught us up on all the news.

    Sounds like you still have some busy days ahead of you...We're looking forward to Christmas!


  2. Oh Darlene, you said that you are tired just reading your own post. I'm amazed that you did all this baking for your family. Surely they don't expect you to do all this baking for them for Christmas. You have to be good to yourself and not over do it again. I haven't forgotten about what happened last year.

    I know that's it's more blessed to give than to receive but they should do the baking for you. It should go the other way around now.

    But really it's good to see you so full of pep. I'm sorry about your friends not making it to the dinner on time. But better late than never.
    I hope that you have the best holidays ever and remember to take it easy on yourself but have all the fun you can.

    Thanks for the recipe. That recipe is perfect for me because I can no longer eat chocolate unless it is cocoa because most baking chocolate, chocolate chips and chocolate bars have soy liticin in it and I'm not supposed to eat that.

    Big warm hugs to you and Dick and Merry Christmas

  3. Wow! That's some schedule!
    That couple are remarkable for still living independently but it certainly takes the help of others to do so. You and Dick are very good to people, and no doubt have been so your whole lives.
    Christmas is such a busy time isn't it - especially when you factor in travel. Sounds like you will be up with the birds for an early get-away!
    Apart from your annual New Year's Eve gathering it seems like a few early nights might be necessary - something also not always easy in the festive season.
    Your home looks so welcoming in the photos.
    Have fun!

  4. Your home is so pretty and the decorations look wonderful! That party sounds like such fun. If I lived closer I'd find a way to join in...even if I had to eat in the bathroom! Please don't over do remind me of my Mom at this time of year..bake, bake, bake and we couldn't make her stop if we had an army to back us up! So enjoy and thanks for the recipe! Love you!

  5. Oh, my gosh Darlene you have a busy life. I don't know that I could keep up with you. You must love to bake and all of your food sounds so good. Thanks for the recipe; I will try to make it. I might do it for our Christmas party.
    Your New Year's Eve party sounds like so much fun. We will have one of our children here for New Year's eve. On the 23rd we are having our Christmas Activity with two of our families. My oldest daughter's family is coming but we will only get them for that day and maybe one another. They are coming to spend the time with my son in laws family. He has a sister who is in critical condition at a hospital here. We are looking forward celebrating with our oldest son and oldest daughter. There will be about 24 total; so it will be busy getting things ready for that. We always have a nativity play with our grandchildren and this year we will be using some of our great grandchildren for the program. I hope to get some pictures of it.
    You take care and don't get too worn out with all that you are doing. Enjoy your Christmas moments with your family and with Sue.
    Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear friend.

  6. I am in awe of a SIT-DOWN dinner for that many!! I have parties from time to time but it's a "grab a seat on the couch if the table is taken" type of thing. It all looks so beautiful and ORGANIZED! Potluck is fun and a chance to eat everyone's best dishes...neat!
    The baking is fun this time of the year but such a lot of work. I love it though as a special gift to all. Your recipes sound delicious. Thank you for the recipes!
    Thank you for all your uplifting comments on my blog. I sometimes have not looked at the computer for long periods...just too busy or tired, -so don't comment back. I am grateful for faithful friends!
    Happy holidays to you and Dick. Hugs, Donna

  7. I'm sure that if ever ate for an extended time in your house I would double my weight in a very short time - it all sounds so delicious!
    Having such New Years Eve traditions must be very nice indeed. What with everyone bringing their own food, the load on the hosts is seriously diminished. But it looks like you can cope with anything that comes along :-)

    PS Thank you for the nice comments on my photos! The first photo was shot from our terrace, and the rest within a radius of at most 15km.

  8. Your New Year's Eve dinner sounds like such a good time and a wonderful way to spend the evening with friends. I am about ready to start my baking and have just made out my grocery list for everything. I'm sooo over whelmed! But the best thing to do is to just dig in and start! Last year everything seemed to flow as far as the baking went, so hopefully it will seem the same this year. I'm trying some new things so we'll see... Merry merry Christmas to both you and Dick. Have a wonderful time with your family in both places. It will be good to get home to your own little place and have that New Year's Eve dinner after all the commotion, won't it? Thinking of you fondly -

  9. Yes, that's quite a schedule Darlene!
    What is 'visiting teaching'? I am quite ignorant about your church I'm afraid.

    I hope all your travels go smoothly and that you have a lovely time with your family.

  10. Wow Dear Friend you have been really busy this month. I can completely understand your not posting.
    It is hard on all of us during the Holidays to take time for Blogging.
    I can not wait to read about your New Years Eve party. I remember last year and was in awe of how much you do for this party. It is an amazing way to ring in the New Year.
    Truly I wish I lived near you so I could sit down and visit with you instead of just sharing comments on here. lol
    Christmas Day is getting here fast but I wanted to come by while I had the chance and wish you a Very Merry Christmas.
    Take care sweet friend and I totally understand forgetting things in the oven. I finally broke down and bought me another timer so I could hear at least one of them.
    Love ya

  11. I am anxious to hear more about circle time and how it went. I love that idea! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas dear friend. Oh, and I've already made 2 large batches of your Karmel Korn last week for gift giving. I have made LOTS of that since you first gave the recipe.