Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jane Austen's Lemon Cake and Life As We Know It

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a fun little recipe to share, but first... I got my husband a Ninja Prep Master for Father's Day. That's not as weird as it sounds. Or maybe it is. But he got me a blender for my birthday when we were dating so I say turnabout is fair play!
 It was neat to hear all the recipes on Julie's Confessions of a Half-hearted Juicer and Jan's Trim Healthy Mama smoothie recipes. With all these excellent fruit/veggie ideas, I was primed to buy this as soon as I saw it in Walmart...
OK, they wouldn't sell it if it wasn't good, right?? At least, that was my theory.
 Looks a little weird. Sort of like chicken pot pie before the crust and without any chicken.
 Ahhhhh, okay. Looks like slimy mulch. But it's not slimy and it's like a green slushy. Husband declared it delicious. Score!
 I also bought this bag because it looked good. Definitely can't go wrong here.
 Mr. Ninja doesn't even blink at this kind of job. SUPER blender!
 And the result? I added some Greek yogurt and it looks a bit like chunky ice cream.
 Sooooo good. I made this in the 48 ounce pitcher and between all the kids, it was almost gone! This is a much better set up than the old blender.
 I don't like to sip anything cold unless I have a straw (hurt my teeth) so I decided to blend blueberries, two bananas and some yogurt. Ummmm... Looked and smelled good. VERY SLIMY. I think it was blending the bananas.
 So, I mixed a bit of the fruit slushy into mine and it was just right!
Now, just as we were being so healthy, something came in the mail. Someone (who just might be named TINA) knows that I have a soft spot for Miss Jane Austen.
She'd seen a book called 'So Jane' by Hollie Keith and thought I might want to try the Lemon Drizzle Cake. Well, of COURSE!
 I was up to my eyeballs in tasks that day, so my dear 12 year old decided to try her hand at making the cake. (Here she is guarding the lemon drizzle until the cake comes out of the oven.)
Since she'd already made chicken pot pie and some other deliciousness, I thought it would be fine to let her try the Austen cake. And from then on, I knew nothing until it came out of the oven. I didn't even know she took pictures! Pretty soon, I'll just turn over the blog posts to her. You'll never even know I'm gone...
So, ingredients are thus:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

 Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and set it aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
 Combine the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well.
 Hm. This pictures gives me pause. But the finished product was good, so I won't worry about it now.
 Add dry ingredients alternately with lemon juice to the butter/egg/sugar mix.
 Mix until smooth.
 Aha, this must be the glaze.
 As we brought the cake out of the oven, we all exclaimed about how it looked so much like the art from one of our favorite fantasy series, Here There Be Dragons.
James Artemis Owen is an incredible human being, along with being a stellar artist and writer. When I ordered a set of his books, he'd signed and drawn in each one. My kids were thrilled to pieces!
By the way, James took our lemon cake comparison very graciously and didn't point out the fact that it looks hardly anything like his noble dragons. That's the kind of guy he is. :)
 After the cake had come out of the oven (around 50 minutes later) we let it cool for 15 minutes, then turned it out onto a plate. Then the drizzling happened. YUM. I decided to chop it into little pieces and put it under a cute cake dome I found at our local thrift store. I'm pretty sure these two pieces don't actually go together, but they looked pretty good with lemon cake inside.
 I do believe Jane would be pleased...
 These are the vintage milk glass that my friend Christalee sent me for my birthday. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.
 Another reason I love milk glass... It glows in the light. Fabulous!
So, that's the tale of the Jane Austen lemon cake that arrived in my mailbox. It was perfectly delicious and lasted approximately 10 seconds.
 I have another project or two coming up and I'll post a few pictures here. I found this old coffee table for a few dollars at a yard sale. I really wanted a coffee table but HATE sharp edges. We always have had little babies around, and so for the longest time I didn't even have a coffee table sicn I couldn't find one with rounded edges. Ta-dah! But it's all banged up.
 And more helpers...
It's a light cream color and I really, really want to stencil some Jane Austen quotes in pale gray around the edges. I know, sounds weird. But I've seen something on Pinterest and it's calling to me! I'll let you know if it's a total fail... Here are some images of stenciled tables and I think they're just adorable!
  I also got this old dresser a few weeks ago and it's been raining too much to work on it. It's pretty beat up, but I have high hopes!
Projects, projects! And just a few more photos... the very best of all. 
 Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs is coming out in a few weeks and I got my author copies! Hooray!! Now I'm  busy throwing them at anyone who stands still long enough...
AND the uncorrected proofs of the last of the trilogy, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Carcklin' Cornbread!  It will be out in November and it was such a thrill to hold this book in my hands. I had a wonderful editor (Beth Adams) and assistant editor (Katie Sandell) who helped make this book something special! 

Ok, so THAT, my friends, is life as we know it here at the Munoz household. I hope your summer is just as full of sweetness, projects, and excitement!

Until next time!


  1. My goodness, you certainly pack quite a bit into a post. I just finished watching, er rewatching Mansfield Park. THE GOOD ONE with Jonny Lee Miller. The cake looks yummy. The dome is marvelous. Your daughter is beautiful and I am impressed with your furniture finds!

    1. It's a day (or week) in the life of the Munoz zoo. And I love JLM but he's SO YOUNG in that movie. I just feel weird about it. HAHA... but I do love that almost kiss. Holy Toledo that is some good almost-smooching!

  2. Oh, and I have always wanted to try those frozen Jamba Juice things but was chicken. Thank you for taking the bawk out of it for me.

    1. Haha! I should have taken your advice an gotten some straws. I think that would have helped my blueberry banana slime go down better.

    2. I don't like bananas in smoothies at all! They feel "dry" if that makes any sense at all in a drink. LOL

    3. My husband makes a really good banana smoothie. I have no idea how he does it. I certainly DID NOT get it right, haha!

  3. send me the daughter! that cake looks good! and it's not even chocolate :-) LOVE the cup!! and your smoothie defintiely looked better than his! I'd have to be half asleep to chug that icky looking one down! maybe eyes still closed.


    1. I had to laugh at the green one! He sure gave it the side eye.

  4. Virginia, I LOVE your posts. So much energy and fun! Gorgeous daughter who is a baker -- sigh, does it get any better than that? And I'm squealing because I adore anything lemony so I will definitely try this.

    Love your furniture make-overs. Still amazed at your garage sale finds. Quite jealous actually. Painting is on my plans for the summer as well. I a gorgeous quaint desk that I rescued out of the garbage a few years ago and haven't gotten around to fixing up yet. It's got such love quirky cut out details and book shelves on each side. Your stenciling link has given me some great ideas. And I love the idea of writing quotes on your table. I redid a dresser a while back and wrote power quotes all over it and I love it! But then as a rabid reader I love word art in any form.

    And congrats on the book arrival. I'm going to have to hunt them down up here. Love the covers.

    1. I really love word art, too! but I'm not the best at hand work, so I'm excited to try some stencils. I've made giant "rulers" out of cedar planks for growth charts and that was okay, but that's the limit of my hand lettering. (You paint the numbers and the measuring marks so that it looks like a six foot old wooden ruler. Very cute. I was giving them as gifts until I ran out of old cedar planks from our shed.)

      I can't wait to hear more about the desk! A friend of ours gave us two vintage desks and they are just the right size of my two youngest. The old wooden tops lift up and everything, complete with ink well spot. So fun! I've seen people remake them into planters, but I can't quite do that when I can put actual kids and books in them.

  5. Hey, Virginia, just checked my public library to see if they had your Hathaway books before recommending they buy them and discovered that they already have Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits. They have 4 copies and all are out with 37 holds so far. How cool is that???????????????

    1. Oh, how exciting, Kav! Our Virginia is in demand!

    2. Haha! That is hilarious! My local library is run by an anti-romance depost. He did get the book when it was requested, but declared it only temporary and it would be removed in a year. He always segregates the romance books into their own tiny room. So funny...

      P.S. I have lots and lots of author copies. If there was a way to give me your library's address, I'd send them some signed copies.

      Seriously, poor husband can't get into his side of the closet.

    3. Oh, I just read they have four copies! So funny. I thought it was one copy being passed around. I'm always glad to throw books at libraries/people but not sure if another few would help that sort of backlog. Read fast, patrons!

    4. Virginia, the price to mail a book to Canada is ridiculous. About $12 a book. Seriously. Postage between our countries went up recently, so it's not worth it. And my library is really good about replacing popular books when they get lost or worn. I'm sure they'll buy more as the demand increases. :-)

    5. True. But I recently mailed arcs to a sweet Austen blogger who lives in Malaysia. Isn't it wild how varied the Janeites are? And I meant to call our library director a despot, not a deposit... whatever that is!

    6. I mean depost! Auto didn't save me the first time but is in guilt-drive overkill now.

  6. What a fun post!! Lots to take in. :)

    Love the frozen smoothie tips! Also must try this cake. I now have a terrible craving.

    Also! That dresser you bought is almost exactly like mine from my childhood. (or actually, it may be closer to by sisters, but they're similar). I love antiques! Grew up in a house full of them. :)

  7. I did, too! But our house was full of mid 19th century American, like Shaker furniture. This piece is... Not sure what? And I think a few parts of it have been added on. I don't think the mirror part can be saved, but my husband is going to try. Will keep you updated!