Thursday, September 18, 2014

One-Star Lemon Sponge Cake and Abbreviated Kitchen Tour, Ruthy-style



No, this amazing bit of Ruthy-devised deliciousness is to invite all o' youse to a one-star party.

One of my books just received a one-star rating from a reader.

(Yes, here is the link to click if you must go see it for yourself!!!)

Now lest you furrow your brow and say "How could this happen????" OR...

(and more likely!)

"Why on earth did it take this long to happen????"

Let me say this to that:


I raised six kids, worked multiple jobs (at the same time) dealt with all kinds of folks, and I'm going to guaran-darn-tee you, it's not the first time I've been found lacking, LOL! But it's the first "In print, In public" smackdown, so we're going to celebrate with cake because now I've officially joined the ranks of very esteemed authors who've achieved the One-Star Rating!!!  Go me!!!!

I came up with this recipe based on ideas posted on a blog, and then my experience with sponge cakes which I love.... So give this a try, it's just wonderfully delicious.

Easy-Peasy Lemon Sponge Cake Using White Cake Mix:

1 White cake mix
2/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup water
6 eggs, separated
8 ounces white chocolate, melted

In large mixing bowl mix cake mix, lemon juice, water, egg yolks and the melted chocolate. Beat at low speed until blended, scrape sides thoroughly, and then increase speed to medium and blend for about two minutes.

Beat egg whites in separate bowl at top speed until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into cake mix until thoroughly blended, or almost thoroughly blended if you're a little bit impatient and think a little white and yellow mix never hurt anyone.

Bake cake in pans that are lined with parchment paper. (I used three 9" round pans)

Bake at 325° for about twenty minutes. Cake doesn't need to get golden to be done...

While waiting, you can play with these two:

How stinkin' cute are they????? Love them!!! Joslyn and Mary Ruthy!!! Okay, back to business here!

Cake will FREEZE BEAUTIFULLY so if you don't need all three, tuck one or two away in freezer. Wrap securely with freezer paper so it keeps that fresh-baked flavor!

Strawberry Cake Filling:

3 cups frozen strawberries
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch

Heat berries to thaw in medium saucepan on stove over low heat. Add water. Mix sugar and cornstarch together, stir into hot berries. When thickened (usually within a minute), remove from heat and chill.

Whipped cream:

1 quart whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar

Whip cream until thick, add sugar, continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Use as frosting and filling...

But first, you know that whole kitchen tour thing????  (Ruthy falls down laughing, thinking of all you CAN'T SEE!!!!!  Oh my stars, I have to know you personally for like EIGHT YEARS before I let you in my kitche!!!!)

Okay, that's not exactly true, but here are a few sneak peeks at my dining room shelves, remember the ones I painted last year? Honestly, they may not have been dusted since then, but if you don't move things, no one knows!!!!

See, that's cute right? Eclectic, fun, Clint Eastwood (I told ol' Dave I bought that for HIM at an airport last year.  :))

And then this:

Dolls and stoneware. Sweet. Normal. Not too dirty. YES!!!!

And then there's this book that I found for Emma, my granddaughter....

My house is in a town that Harriet Tubman used to ride through as she escorted slaves to freedom. A mile up the road is an Underground Railroad stop at a former one-room schoolhouse. And diagonally across the street from that is an old church. A tunnel leading from the schoolhouse to the church was an escape hatch for runaway slaves.... And the people who built my house 160 years ago were the first signers of the local petition to ban slavery. Harriet Tubman has been a hero of mine from the time I was old enough to read, and I hope I've passed that love her courage on to my kids... Amazing woman!

So here's a look at my 160 year old red cedar floor in the kitchen.... We pulled off two layers of linoleum (cracking and o-l-d) and subflooring to find this floor underneath. I love it:

See the gaps between the boards? They collect everything! Some are wider than others, and it's almost impossible (especially when you sweep like once/month) to keep them clean. I consider it extra nuggets of food for the babies!!!  :)

Okay, this is how lovely and delicate this cake comes out. I was afraid it would puff too much for two pans so I used a third, but I'd have been fine with two 9" pans.

And here is building the cake: First layer of cake, and then I spread a thick layer of whipped cream across the layer, and I build up the edges. Then I spooned on the strawberry filling.... and then the top layer of the cake. I repeated this for the final layer. The built-up edge holds the strawberry filling in place so no slip-sliding away!

And the finished cake!!!! Without the one-star candle!  :)  It was amazingly delicious!
 And this is a shot of my kitchen table, so that's part of the kitchen, right????  :)

You see this all the time, and it's so much easier keeping THIS SQUARE clean than a whole room! That's just crazy pressure on a busy gal!!!!
 I made fresh bread yesterday morning because one of my cute afternoon kids loves homemade bread and herbed oil to dip it in... so while she did her homework, a loaf of cut-up bread made her... and others!!!.... happy.

And that's what it's all about in my crazy old kitchen: making folks happy.


  1. This cake looks delicious, Ruthy. But I've got to get up to your corner of the world to enjoy some of that history! So fascinating! Thanks for throwing that little Tubman tidbit in there!

    1. Piper, I still remember curling in the corner of my desk seat, riveted by the first Harriet Tubman biography I read in fourth grade. I was inspired, amazed and enthralled at her courage... and lack of size! A small but mighty woman and her chosen path became an inspiration for me all my life. Size means nothing. Persistence and courage win the day!!! And each of my kids read her histories, along with Rosa Parks and Ben Franklin and Sojourner Truth and John and Abigail Adams.... What people sacrificed to give us what we have is mind-boggling and should be a huge part of elementary education... sadly, that's no longer the case and today's kids rarely see (and are affected by) the courage and faith of those gone before. :( But I'll shout it from the mountaintops!

  2. y'all are cheating on the kitchen pics! I'm hungry..sigh...didn't get my exercise Monday or Wednesday so not indulging in sweets though a granola bar has been calling my name off and on tonight...

    1. Susanna, LOL! You've seen bits and pieces of my kitchen, darling and there's a reason for that! I have one wall covered with notes, scraps of paper, anything i think I might need to reference from my various jobs, computer sites, editors' notes and story ideas.... So that wall's a wreck. And I didn't end up with time to sweep the cobwebs down (I wish I was kidding!!!) so I might just hang fake spiders from them for Halloween. :)

    2. BUT!!!! I did buy a new long-handled duster to reach the cobwebs, so I might let one of the older kids tackle that job today!!!!

    3. I"ve seen more of yours than the others LOL! at least y'all can find a clean square to take pics..not sure I can find a square inch right now..

  3. WOW! Love the history! One of my first books I remember from my childhood was about Harriet Tubman. I was shocked that someone had thrown a brick at a little girl and that cruelty stuck with me.
    So jealous that your HOUSE is older than my STATE.
    But I live within walking distance of part of the Oregon Trail. As in the actual ruts that the wagons used. Weird that after a hundred years, the grass still hasn't grown. :) Best apples there, too. We've planted seeds from those apples and they've grown true (not that hybrid stuff that happens when you plant seeds from the store bought apples).

    Speaking of floorboards, when we bought this house, we peeked under th carpet and saw old PINE. I was totally stoked.
    Then to get it approved for a mortgage, the owners had to allow for an inspection... but the only way they could get underneath was to CUT A WHOLE IN THE FLOOR.
    So, we signed the papers and I gleefully arrived, still dreaming of a living room with an old pine floor... and discovered 3X 4 square of plywood in the middle of it. Bitter tears, I'm tellin' ya.

  4. haha, I mean THEY CUT A HOLE. Not a WHOLE. I blame the cold

    1. I knew what you meant, darling girl!!!! We have cut-outs in some of our floors, too. In one, they had separated the room into two rooms at one point and the owners before us opened it back up... so there's a beam across the center ceiling (I love beams!!!) and there were three-mis-matched pieces of flooring, clearly replaced. I've been teaching my self how to get around weird stuff like that. We kept the old antique register cover in one bedroom just because you never see old cool heat run covers like that anymore! And the rectangles where old heating systems had cold air drafts or registers, we just kind of ignore. But what about (if you decide to uncover the old pine at some time, but warning, pine scratches and dents really easy and kids are rough on old floors. I'd redone three of mine (including the kitchen) and boy, five years with six kids running around and they needed it again. I couldn't afford cute carpets to cover the wood and even with several coats of polyurethane, my boys... won. But I'd rather have the boys than a perfect floor!!!! Anyway, what I was thinking is that the center of the floor could become a tile mosaic. They sell them all put together as "floor centers" at home improvement stores. I bought one at Bargain Outlets. It didn't end up working for what I thought originally, but Virginia, they're so stinkin' pretty! Some cement board underneath, a tile mosaic (and you can piece tile around it to bring it to the right size) how pretty that would be!

    2. I've done a couple of historical novellas this year. I love showcasing how amazingly brave and solid the colonists and the pioneers had to be to survive... and how many didn't survive. We are beyond blessed and sometimes a little spoiled!

    3. Uh oh. We just got new carpet and now.... now I'm thinking about tile centers... I've always thought the next time we'd just put in a cement floor with a drain in the middle.

  5. Replies
    1. Good girl! I knew I paid you well, LOL!!! ♥♥♥♥♥

  6. LOL -- only Ruthy could turn a one star review into a five star celebration!!!! That cake looks fantabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love Harriet Tubman too. One of the first biographies I ever ead. And Sojourner her too. Amazing women of strength and courage. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about them!

    Thanks for sharing the kitchen snippets. You showed the important parts...namely the little darlin's who dwell there!

    1. Kav, yes! The people... and the food!.... make the kitchen. Although Bethany sent me some great kitchen remodel pics last week, so I might start saving me some quarters!!!! If I can do really cute and country and keep the aspects of my kitchen I love, my big picture windows and my ancient floor.... I might be tempted in a few years!!!

  7. I agree with Kav - you showed all the important parts of your kitchen :)

    Because you don't live in a sterile 10-year-old box. I have to do things to my kitchen to make it feel homey and lived in, but yours is already there. Just keep on baking away!

    And I love the history! One of the first things I do every time we move (right after finding the library and getting my card) is to explore the history of the area. Sometimes it's blatant (we have billboards all over the place with Wild Bill Hickok's picture on them), but sometimes the history is more subtle - like hidden tunnels or abandoned State Hospitals.

    I'm getting up on my soapbox about teaching children about the past - the real past through the biographies of the people who lived through the events that shaped our world today. One big reason why we chose to homeschool our children was to give them that rich history that isn't taught anymore. Because stories like that make a person look up and beyond themselves and their circumstances to what might be, if they were brave enough to try. Stories like that make a child grow into an adult with dreams.

    Okay. Off my soapbox.

    Now I'm off to look for any one star reviews of my own. I need an excuse to make a cake :)

    1. Jan, I share your thoughts exactly! On the history, the beauty and sacrifice and on the cake.... and on not short-changing our children's education by glossing over sacrifice. And I bet you won't find any stinkin' one star reviews, but Virginia and Melissa Jagears gave me firm instruction: You can only celebrate the FIRST one-star on a book... and then you must move on. Sage advice!

    2. Poor Jan. I say one of us makes a sacrifice and goes to leave her a one star, hahahahahaha!

  8. I guess this is why I'm thankful for heirlooms to transform my house. I want those floors! Such character.

    I say Piper and I plan a Harriet Gunman road trip and stop by. My daughter's YA biography of her was worn through. Harriet and Corrie Ten Boom were her heroines growing up. They've really guided her.

  9. Hi Ruthy~
    A lovely kitchen comes from the love and care we put into it and girl you are overflowing with a LOVELY kitchen (and dining room too). To have you for a mama, grammy, wife or friend, making your food creations with all that love and goodness you put into it? thats makes for the BEST kitchens anywhere!

  10. Ruthy, I love you and your kitchen THIIIIIIIIIIIS much! Thanks for sharing.

    Y'all won't see shots of my kitchen this week. I've been sick and asked someone to fill in tomorrow. But maybe I'll try to put up something next week.