Monday, September 18, 2017

Butterflies are Everywhere.

TFall is upon us, even if it doesn't quite feel like it, 90 degree days still assault us, but the evenings are cool. Butterflies are fueling up for their journey and I am glad for the abundance of flowers in our yard. The zinnias and marigolds, coral vine and cardinal vine are a bit scraggly, but the butterflies don't seem to mind at all.

I have planted baby plants outside the bakery front door and they are flourishing. The kale has tripled in size! I love looking at new life springing up around the bakery, merchandisers are arriving. Tables. The stove. Wiring is near complete and so is the plumbing. Boy I am ready to get to baking. I have been growing sourdough with flour I stashed in the freezer. Working on letting the building know who she is.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Evolving job description.

Yesterday I did some troubleshooting with contractors, city inspector, local electric provider, gas company, etc. Entered expenses into quickbooks. Watered the tender little herbs and kale that Maggie grew from seed for me and now are residing in big funky rock planters out front of the shop.

I cleaned out cabinets that were recently installed. Mixed up a batch of milk and honey bread. A tiny batch. Set it in the window front to rise. Took glasses and wine glasses and coffee cups out of boxes and set into their new home in the lovely cabinets. Putzed. Made lunch for a friend who popped by. Dealt with more paperwork. Painted the back door. Painted a couple of big pots. Set a table for kids to share dinner. Threw out the wilted wildflowers.

Rose and Nora came by the bakery after their late cross country practice and we enjoyed a light supper of salad, fresh bread and chicken leftovers. We made small talk. Covered the basics of school. Then I looked around and asked if they remembered that day in March. You know,
the day Rose came up with the big idea that it was time to expand. And Nora told me she thought that 116 North 5th street was the perfect location for the shop.

They nodded. They remembered clearly. Maybe it was my imagination, or the weird lighting, but for a second, I kinda thought our eyes grew moist. My mom's paintings on the wall. Lovely tables and chairs. Black iron chandeliers Christine and our friend Mike installed. Those baby herbs and veggies growing taller and healthy out front. At least 40 baby chard plants coming up from seed, tending by my precious dad.

Order, miraculously being birthed out of the chaos, the dream, the imaginings of a family a bit too daft to think too hard before we plunged.

My mentor from the Small Business Development Center popped in yesterday. We chatted about the progress and the steps and how things are moving forward. She hugged my neck as she left, eyes bright and confident. Her confidence leaked out onto me.

How can I explain how precious this dream is to me? How crazy? How marvelously it is tying our family together?

The leaves on our fig tree are falling this week. Things are hot and dry. Zinnias look a bit the worse for wear, so do the marigolds, but I know if I were to give them a deep soak instead of the emergency water, they would pop right back up. I wonder if I look like them? A bit crispy and tired around the edges? Oh, but the coral vine! She is a work of art. Dripping with hot pink jewels, the bees and flies and wasps, the hummingbirds hang around her wall of delight, drinking it up with joy. I grab armsful and stick them in St. Germaine bottles I have been gifted. They grace the bakery beautifully. Tomatoes keep making, as do the jalapenos. Pretty much the rest of the garden is done for.

The chickens have begun to molt. I let them free range the yard, hoping they would work over the bugs, which they have. They have either paused their laying duties, or have their nest well hidden in amongst the weeds.

Do you remember the ducks Rose implored me to spare this summer? I have watched them grow so robust. So juicy. So luscious. The other day, I have to admit I was fantasizing about duck a l'orange as they waddled in and out of their little pond. I imagined the crispy skin,
the popping fat. A batch of fried potatoes. And then, a dull, waxy looking orb grabbed my eye. Actually three orbs! Lo and behold! The ducks started laying eggs, as if they could read my mind and were desperate to pull off a feat that would ensure their survival.

I now have over a dozen duck eggs, collecting in my house. Will transform them into spelt pound cake, probably. Perhaps we should name the girls? Look like they will be staying with us, and won't Rose be glad to know.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For....or We Bought a Zoo ( a family favorite)

A year or so ago a friend told me how she makes a list on new moon days. A list of goals she wishes to accomplish, a prayer, a to do list, a vision chart.

I was feeling rather low at the time. Feeling dull. Feeling long term, low grade sad, grateful, but trudging.

I sat down, made my list, some rather practical things, like being able to have enough money to pay the bills. Some family related, like more consistent family, sit around the table dinner times.

At the bottom of the list, my heart let out a little sigh. I missed my creative joyful spark. I felt her absence deeply. For over twelve months I have cried out for that spark to return. I know it is part of my essence, my being, and I want to offer my children, my family and sure, why not? The whole world deserves my whole self, not just the shadowy, leftover bits.

Sometime early this spring, maybe March? Rose and I were sitting at the table chatting over coffee. I don't even quite remember what brought about the conversation. Perhaps I mentioned how I was tired of baking out of our home. At any rate, Rose, who had not been terribly sparkly herself, lit up from within. With a smile I had not seen in some time, she suggested I should open a french bakery. She pulled up some images on google, and something lit up inside me. We smiled, we dreamed, we gave way to the luxury of fantasy for a few minutes.

It was a moment I will treasure. Memories are fuzzy, I can't remember exactly, but Nora got engaged in the daydream, and they reminded me how Dad wished for me to grow and expand. How he was a firm believer that my freshly milled ancient grain and sophisticated real food was something the world would enjoy. We fantasized about recipes. Expanded offerings. A charming, lovely, European place, sophisticated, yet warm. Light,
and airy, with room to hang my mom's fine art to display. How fun it would be for my dad to grow my greens in his garden and have meaning and purpose that would feed our community.

We got so excited about the idea, I immediately grabbed Nora and we went driving around Alpine seeking the perfect spot.

It was a whim. A way to spend a gloomy Sunday afternoon.Nora saw the Hudson Event center downtown, a recently renovated building, just the right size, just the right place.

"Oh, wouldn't that be perfect?" we cried. We drove on, saw another building, owned by some customers and acquaintances.

I don't know what got into me, but for the first time in a long time, I felt a little spark kindle. I went to speak with Loretta at the Small Business Development Center. One of my friend, customers, Martha, had been encouraging me for ages to go. I kept putting it off, saying I had no time to grow, no time to think about boring business stuff.

Well. All of a sudden, I decided to invest three months into doing the hard work of determining feasibility regarding expanding the bakery.
I started sketching drawings, seeking estimates, coming up with business plans. I went to walk around the building on fifth street, turned circles, called my best business advisor big brothers and sisters, listened to their advice, shared them my vulnerable dreams.

It surprised me how scary it was to open up my little dream. Business had grown, actually had significantly outgrown my facility some time ago. I had grown tired of working in my home. Having home and family and work overlap on a regular basis. The system worked really well for many years. The kids were little and I was home. Busy, but home! Now my kids spend a great deal of their time and money hanging out in the cool coffee shops in town. School, friends, sports and work keep them far from home nowadays.

I wondered if it were possible to expand in a way that would benefit me, benefit my kids and parents. I wondered if there were a way to increase my profit margin in a way that could make this operation more sustainable.

Loretta took me through my paces. We spent hours each week, working through elements of a business plan and loan application process through the SBA. For the first time ever, I counted the cost of a loaf of bread, a detailed cost, not just the spiral notebook accounting that got us by the past twenty years. I wrote a business narrative. A resume. An assets and liabilities paper. A projected profit and loss deal.

Wow. After writing about the past 30 years, even my childhood was spent writing recipes, cooking, feeding and teaching people. Hmm. Maybe not such a reach to think that food is my thing?

My business plan for the purchase of a building, renovating it to have two apartments in the back and bakery gallery up front got more detailed. Renovation costs escalated. I realized that this was too ambitious a plan for me, being a single mom, knowing that I needed to work in some margin for family issues. Property and bakery asset rich, cash poor.

I decided one evening that I needed to set the dream aside. I was proud of myself for being willing to dream, but needed to get back to reality.

Something in my heart felt rather sad.

A still, small voice said to keep doing my homework. And I decided to go to Montana to get a load of grain. I couldn't imagine not baking anymore. Perhaps I should just rearrange things at home? Put in a commercial sink in the laundry room? And I kept meeting with Loretta, figuring I should see things through and get an accurate picture of my financials.

Then, out of the clear blue, my realtor called me on a Saturday. I was working at the vineyard and happened to be grabbing a drink of water at the owner's home when the call came through. "You have got to come see this place, it's perfect for your bakery!!!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. Too expensive, I said. But why not?

I went home, asked the girls to join me as consultants. We drove over, walked in, and saw the front room, creamy, dark trim, just like my bakery. Clean. Big.
Great light. We chatted a few minutes with the building owner and she made me an offer I couldn't refuse. We both shook our heads, feeling like this was a match made in heaven.

I took the new info to my advisors. We hammered out a few details. It felt too good to be true, but thoroughly grounded in reality.

And now we have a lease. I am sitting at my desk, listening to beautiful music on the surround sound, 4650 lbs of grain in a storage room, my mom's art work lined up, ready to be hung next week. A kitchen in the works, a plan for an artist friend to paint Taste and See Bakery on the downtown storefront. I have schedules, a skeleton crew, menus, tables and chairs on the way, financing in the works (Oh, Please God! let it close soon!) and an opening date.

Soon I will write about the spiritual journey to Montana. But for now, let me say I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I have felt more creative spark and joy these past six months than in I don't know when. A vision is coming true. It is scary. I am terrified. Support is overwhelmingly beautiful. A vision that enables each of us in our family to shine. A financially stable plan that will not only pay my bills, but also pay my employees a fair wage. A gorgeous setting for my mom's art work. A venue for my dad's vegetable garden. Work for my kids and a sweet place for them to hang out.

It could fail spectacularly. I have decided to take the risk.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I Kinda Crack Myself Up, Once I Get Over the Panic.

These days I am spending a good deal of time pondering a large plumbing issue in our house. A hot water line burst somewhere under the cement and tile floors or perhaps somewhere in the cinder block walls. We have a wonderfully sturdy house. Not gonna fall down any time soon. That said, galvanized pipes embedded in such sturdiness don't last forever and here we are. Getting estimates from plumbers and contractors. Getting more estimates, more itemized, for the insurance company. Who will pay a portion, perhaps a tiny portion? Damn. Or fiddlesticks, as my mom says, haha!

A lot of stress, leading to anxiety. I needed to work at home today to be available for worker guys to come take a look. Since I was here, I hired a repairman to come fix a broken freezer. I sorted papers. Deep cleaned the bakery. Took apart shelves, washed giant windows, organized the pots and pans closet. I yanked a counter out of the laundry room that had been in the process of slowly falling for a year or so. Put in some racks that had been sitting in the carport for a month.

The girls took the truck, a load of food, and headed to Big Bend National Park to swim in the Rio, play, get out of the house. Probably due to my heightened state of anxiety, after a few hours, when they didn't reach our friend's home, I began to worry. My imagination went crazy on me.
I kept up the deep cleaning, organized, set up racks in the bakery. Took out trash. pulled some weeds out of the garden and fed them to the poultry.

Of course I was thrilled that the kids were going to be unplugged for a few hours, enjoying majestic canyons, cool river, rock skipping girl time. But as three hours turned into dark hours, I felt my face get a bit tight. I breathed in. Breathed out. Made a point of releasing the muscles in my face, in my shoulders. I surrendered, praying a prayer of trust, the no matter what prayer of trust. Not an easy one for me, but one that has been used more than once. We know loss, and I guess when my silly little mom worries spring up, it ties into the place that knows not every story has a happy ending.

I was just finishing up washing the sink out and wiping down the counters when I got the text all were safe and sound at our family friend's home. Indeed, they had been swimming in Boquillas canyon, all was well, I imagine they were dirty and tired and hungry. The relief washed over me and I sobbed for a couple of minutes. Crazy, right???

Wow, parenting is great practice for the whole surrender thing. I am not in control. At least I am not in control of very much. The releasing process is one that requires a great deal of practice. Life is terrific at offering myriad of opportunities for such practice.

All that energy certainly was terrific for chores! I love seeing the results.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

One Day at a Time. or Figuring it Out. or The Journey is a Beautiful One and I am Grateful.

I felt a bad mood coming on today. Irritable. Tender around the edges. These days I try to pay attention to the feelings. Acknowledge them. Investigate and see if the feelings I am feeling are based on historical stuff, grief, hunger, exhaustion, etc.

The other evening I missed an estrogen pill (thank you, estrogen, for the backup after uterine cancer, and wow, when I forget you, you sure have a way of reminding me, hmmm.) I was ready, paying attention, warned Nora that if I got weepy, loud, sad or mad and it didn't make sense, that was why.

So when the annoyance started simmering, I figured it was purely hormonal. And then all of a sudden, the feelings grew a bit more intense. My barometer perked up. Something said to myself that these sad, mad, brittle feelings were starting to feel a bit like grief.

"What grief?" I asked myself, thinking, what the big deal? At least 4th of July didn't hold a lot of grief pain for us.

And then I fell into a puddle, as I scrubbed the kitchen. Not a puddle on the floor, haha. But a puddle of tears.

What was I thinking? 4th of July was great big potlucks on the farm. Piles of people, mountains of incendiaries, sparkler dances, homemade icecreams, plenty of wineberry tart, salt potatoes, big pans of baked beans bubbling on the stove, kids chasing big kids, parents and teenagers and college kids, grandparent figures, fellow farmers, christians, atheists, a few mystics and an agnostic or two for good measure, some neighbors, just about anyone in our circle hanging around having way too much fun.

Meaningful conversations, laughter, oh my goodness, Philip and the sparkler dance! Serge and the potato cannon. Boys and bonfires and the sweet vision of young love and old love and family and farm and fireflies and moist grass.

I am crying as I write. No wonder I don't really have much desire to do anything on fourth of July anymore. It just feels blah.

I don't want to make up new traditions.

Maggie came in as I groused and mopped. She is a bit blah herself. As are the other kids. I cried as I mentioned my grief surge. We laughed to think about how we have way too many family traditions that got rather discombobulated with Philip's death...

I just don't feel like making picnic food. I had a homemade pie crust sitting out, so I filled it up with all the stuff to make a giant green chili cheddar quiche. That's american, right?

We all sort of ate together, kind of. All our good friends are busy with their own families, or out of town, or doing something else. I don't really want to go sit out and watch fireworks, even though that used to be so much fun for me. In Ft Worth, at the park, orchestra playing 1812 overture, the cannon, babies, picnic, cheap wine and the patchwork denim quilt and Philip. I don't remember what we did in New Jersey. I probably stayed home with a nursing baby while Philip tag teamed by taking the kids out to local events. I think that is why our memories of the farm are so sweet. We were all together, surrounded by friends, happily entertaining, some of us entertaining more than others, ahem, that would be Philip!

I am offering myself compassion, and trying to be mindful, offering up my vulnerabilities to the girls. Wishing we didn't have so much pain in our journey. Aware that there is no journey without pain unless you are so numbed you miss all the rest of the feelings.

Anyway. Writing it out helps. Gonna run Nora back to the baptist church youth group firework stand. Gonna pause the housecleaning. Gonna buy some sparklers. Maybe I will watch the kids twirl with theirs. Maybe they will find their friends in the park and I will get back to my book. Sounds like a perfect ending to my day!

Oh, and I apologized to Rose for being a bit testy. Told her about the hormonal swing and the grief surge. My kids are so compassionate to me. Now she is driving Nora to the stand, and Thomas is going with the girls. They all grabbed a spoon, planning to buy a container of Ben and Jerry's at the grocery store. A new tradition? I sent extra money for sparklers.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gratitude, Rain, Garden, Sunday dinner

Yesterday I picked a nice bowl of green beans. Some fresh jalapenos, three tomatoes, a giant bowl of arugula, some oregano, basil, sage, cilantro.
I grabbed some stevia leaves. Worked a bit to clean up the broiler and duck home and gave the ducks fresh water in their swimming pool. We had a delicious thunderstorm in the morning, which left the air fresh and moist, perfect for hours working in the yard.

I went over to mom and dad's to care for some things there, and stole some onions and beet greens from daddy's garden.

Sunday afternoon was a delight, putzing in the kitchen. I made a small jar of stevia extract, will let you know how it turns out! And a feast for our dining delight, a dinner on the gazebo, with gentle cool breeze, colorful evening skies and family. My gang is not particularly partial to arugula, but we have a gangbuster crop this year. Some time I plan to make arugula pesto, spent some time developing a recipe. I especially love it cooked in a fresh marinara. Yesterday I catered to younger palates, I sauteed it with beet greens, added cream and three cheeses, some grape tomatoes and basil, and let it cook down into a treat of a dish. Which disappeared. The green beans with Dad's onions disappeared. The pico as a relish alongside the pork roast disappeared as well.

Not much satisfies me more than growing, picking, preparing and eating our own food. And sharing the table with others.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life is full of ups and downs, or Mid-May Vineyard Report

All goslings and most of the ducks are living full time out at the vineyard. After consulting with a wildlife biologist girlfriend, I built a much more secure nighttime housing situation for the little weeders. The poultry are safe, sound, and shockingly efficient in regards to weed eating.

Perhaps I should come up with a plan to join forces with the local therapists? Their clients could pay a monthly fee to join me out in the vineyard. They wouldn't have to prune or tie or spread compost. Just set up a chair and table in the shade and watch the waddlers work. Those creatures delight me to no end. They nibble away all the broadleaf grasses and weeds, leaving a wildflower meadow in between the rows. Their peeps and chirps and occasional squawks add to the sound of birds and breeze in the vines. Signs of depression and discouragement decrease exponentially when hanging out around the newest enterprise in sustainable, organic winemaking.

That said...A week ago we had a hard freeze hit. My plants here in town are fine. Mile High Vineyard got hit significantly. Cordons loaded with luscious leaves and most amazing display of grape clusters got bitten savagely by the cold snap. Our vines were thriving in two months worth of May temperatures. The temperate winter left them leaping to go and grow. A freeze this time of year is the norm. Which isn't a problem unless we have had so many weeks of 80 plus days. And weeks of 50 plus nights.

So. I have been pruning away the bitterly frozen, crunchy dead leaves and vine growth. It is a bit disheartening. I know it will grow back. Not all the grapes were lost. The realities of agriculture. I guess I would be more upset if I didn't understand the nature of the business. And if I didn't have such happy little helpers working diligently by my side!

We are making a deep litter system for the goose house. I will start applying the compost we made over the winter, a scoop per vine. As soon as the new leaves come out, I plan to make compost tea for a foliar spray. Knowing that the geese are helping not only with weed eradication, but with building the next compost windrow is pretty awesome as well! Once we enter the rainy season, please God!!!, I plan to burn the old vine trimmings and add a deep layer to the compost, just as we did last year.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


The other day I was working in the garden and admiring the pomegranate and rose bush. I noticed bright red splashes of color on the branches of a small tree along the fence. I had wondered why it had never bloomed. I thought it was an althea, also known by the sweet name, Rose of Sharon.

Isn't it funny when you see something unexpected and it doesn't quite register?

I walked up closer to investigate. Scattered in among the bright cardinal jewels were glossy black mulberries! How did I get that one so wrong? Six years here in Alpine and this is the first time the tree fruited!

My kids are delighted because they remember mulberry feasts in days of yore.

Ya just never know...

PS poultry operation doing well. I moved the first batch of goslings out to the vineyard yesterday. The vineyard is well fenced,
hopefully a good first layer of defense. I constructed a mini tractor for their evening bedroom, covered with heavy hardware cloth. I hope they slept okay. I hope the structure was secure. I woke up several times worried about them. I guess three am is a bit too early to call in to the vineyard owners? The goslings make me laugh as they walk around, happily eating the weeds and grass. They enjoy splashing in their water, chattering away to one another as they waddle to and fro.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Once a Farmer...

As I ready for bed this evening, I hear the sound of chirpy, purry little voices in the greenhouse, right outside my kitchen window.

I have 20 geese, toulouse and french toulouse, 9 pekin ducks and 24 cornish cross chicks brooding away. They each have their little zone, with feed, shavings, water and warmth. The past two days I have herded the week old geese out to the yard, put them in behind my grapevines that grow outside the bakery window. Grass and weeds were about 8 or 9 inches tall. After a day of munching, the grass was down about 75%!!! And the goslings were purring in contentment, doing what they like to do best.

I bought the goslings to aid me in vineyard management. They love to eat grass. The vineyard I tend has plenty of grass and we choose to avoid chemicals. I am delighted beyond words as I see the adorable creatures go to town on grass eating.

It is a harsh, or perhaps I should say, a wonderful reality that these geese will eventually, at least most of them, become a sustainably, humanely raised source of protein for a family. I give them lots of space in their greenhouse bedroom. I gently and lovingly direct them to their weed eating day school, preparing them for vineyard work. All the weeds and grass I pull from the garden go to them for afternoon snacks. I will work to make them a home at the vineyard that will hopefully protect them from hungry predators. Well. Yes, I guess I am a predator.

I gratefully eat meat. Thankful, as I know that when I go without meat for awhile, I get so hungry. I have tried vegetarian lifestyle for a time, and it is quite hard. I gain weight. I am hungry all the time. When I eat small amounts of meat on a regular basis, I feel less ravenous.

What to do?

I have chosen to raise at least a portion of our meat. Letting these creatures, even in a suburban setting, live a life that is humane, with peace, good food and room to roam. Iknow there is a cost to the meat on my plate.

I like knowing that the vineyard will feed geese and ducks that will feed us. I like knowing that our meat will involve very little extra fuel, compared to feedlot beef or factory chicken. I like knowing that the grapes will be free of residues from gas weedeaters and poisonous herbicides and pesticides.

It feels right to me, anyway.

And having the farm thing going, here in the middle of our small town, feels like a gift.

Who would've thunk it? I was so sad when we left the farm. I thought that all that learning was going to go to waste when we moved to town.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday, not exactly like other Maundy Thursdays in our past, but still quite relevant...

Maggie came home today.

She arrived an hour or so before bakery opened to customers. Tired girl, wishing for a nap after a super long drive, we hugged her hello and suggested she head to bed. I could barely stop to say hello, we were in the throes of bakery prep. The final loaves of italian were kneaded and formed and scored, thrown into the super hot oven with giant splashes of water to create a steam bath. I pureed the vegetarian stock and white bean soup with sage leaves and cream. Counted out the swiss chard pies. Stirred a buttery raspberry glaze for the spelt pound cakes.

Maggie put up her hair and joined Theo, Rose and I in the maelstrom that is bakery day.

I loved how she couldn't resist!

She glazed and topped the adorable poundcakes with raspberries. She bagged and stirred. Theo washed dishes and she and Rose jarred up soup and sourdough starter for waffle mixes. Nora did whatever I asked.

I put on a clean apron, grabbed the cream cheese, a stick of butter, a couple of organic oranges, some honey, and threw them all into the mixer.

Today I launched a new cake.

Sometimes I feel like a machine. I crank out all the favorite breads, never can bake enough, and end up exhausted, done in, content, grateful, but hungry to create.

Last night I scrounged and patched together one recipe and another, finally coming up with something that fit our operation.
A honey rye cake, made with orange juice, coconut oil, freshly milled rye flour, this and that. As soon as I licked the bowl I thought I might have a winner.

After it came out of the oven, I knew it.

We sold pretty much everything. We worked together hard, we worked together well. After the customers were gone and dishes cleaned up, I put out some pizza dough and the girls cooked it up. Some of their friends came over and after the pizza, they found some strawberries and needed to nosh a bit more. Maggie pulled out the leftover cream cheese frosting and we dipped in our strawberries.

We oohed. We aahed. We licked fingers. We said, omg, this is so good. The girls lauded me and praised me and ate more and basically made me feel like a rock star.

We envisioned a future storefront bakery, an adorable space, big glass windows, Mom's artwork decorating the walls. Breads,
omelets, soups, and Orangey Spicey Little Honey Rye cake on the menu, with a pot of that cream cheesey taste of heaven on hand for people who need a little something.

I felt so much joy and love in that tired moment with my girls. Such a sensuous moment. The taste, the texture, the sound of laughter, the flour covered surfaces and sound of the oven in the background.

Truly could not think of a single other thing I would need to make me happy right now.

Oh, and for the record, I had better write down the recipe off the batter stained back of an envelope, in case I should wish to replicate it someday.

Orangey Spicey, Little Honey Cake (Girls tell me I should not add rye to the name because people think they don't like rye, and if they just taste and see, they will love the cake for sure and slowly get over their aversion and prejudicial bent regarding rye, that humble and lovely grain...)

4 c freshly milled rye flour
3 tsp alum. free baking pdr
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt i use redmonds real
1 1/2 -2 TBS cinnamon
1 tbsp powdered ginger (I think to really gild the lily I should mince fresh ginger to add to the dried, maybe a knob the size of a thumb?)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 c sucanat
1 c organic coconut oil (the refined is okay, butter good also, but extra virgin, with the smell of coconut is worth the expense)
1 c honey, raw, if you can get it
2-3 eggs depending on size
3 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange extract
1 c freshly juiced oj if you have oranges in season, or good juice from the store. but fresh, with some pulp super good
1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c milk
zest of two oranges

Mix the dry, mix the wet. Beat the wet ingredients until beautifully creamy, gently stir in the dry. To tell you the truth, I add the dry ingredients minus the flour, beat it all well, and then add the flour. Hate to use two bowls, I do enough dishes.

Grease and flour pans, or use muffin tin liners. With this recipe I made six mini bundt cakes, a tin of cup cakes, and a pretty mold pan for our family.

350 until the middle is just set.

Most Amazing Cream Cheese Spread Ever (AKA orangey cream cheesey goodness)

16oz good cream cheese
1 stick butter
juice of half an orange
1/2 tsp orange extract
zest of 1 orange
1/4 c sucanat
1/4 c honey or to taste (the cake is sweet, we don't make this very sweet, but it is fairly easy to taste and test as you go, adjusting. Better to add bit by bit. )
Beat and beat and beat until completely and beautifully whipped. This makes plenty for cakes and leftover to stash in a pint jar in the fridge for late night snacks. Using strawberries. Or fingers. Above cake, baked into layers, frosted with this spread, topped with lovely, edible, in season flowers, might just be one of the best things ever.

I grated nutmeg and more orange zest over our little frosted cakes and they looked so pretty. More importantly, they tasted great. And while not exactly low cal, they were filled with real food. Eggs from the free range chickens, wonderful yogurt, good fats for the brain, and not a single chemical or weird additive in sight.

This recipe is not double tested, could include typos, might not work with your oven. But if you know how to bake a cake, I bet you could make it work. If you wish, you could halve the sweetener, add applesauce to take the place of some of the fat. It is def. not low carb. PLenty of room for improv...

After being a bit bored with my baking, it was fun to whip up a keeper that brought sighs of delight to my daughters. Love my job. Love my kids. Pretty grateful.