Sunday, May 22, 2016

Onward Through South Dakota - Black Hills


One of our most favorite parts of our South Dakota trip was driving Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park.

Even though we were visiting in an off season, we saw lots of wildlife!

Bison were everywhere.

The famed Wild Burros were few, but at least one friendly 'guy' made his way up to greet us!

This was a new animal to us. It is called a Pronghorn.
I do wish the visitor centers in this park had been open for us to learn more about the area and wildlife.

From there, we traveled onto the Needles Highway. 
Truckin' Man LOVED this road. The twist's and turns, and tunnels were so fun for him.

I did not remember the altitude being so high. I guess when I traveled here back in the day with my parents, I did not have my fear of heights so it didn't mean anything to me back then.

If we aren't driving of the edge of a cliff, the height doesn't bother me as much 
and this overlook was absolutely breath taking!

 Of course, we had to take a peak at Mt. Rushmore. 

Just how I remembered it.

Until next time!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Italian Cream Cake

Last year I shared with you a new cookbook, The Crown of Southern Cooking. This cookbook has yet to get any dust, and continues to impress me!  This post has been a long time coming, because I absolutely love this recipe. Italian Cream Cake. O.M.G. It's so good!

I tried researching the history of this cake because I wasn't sure what was "Italian" about this recipe. Despite the time I put into researching this, I did not get an answer. And, it's a question other people have too. It has more of a "Southern" history than Italian. And from the cookbooks and blogs it shows up in, I agree with that. And, you know how I love my southern foods!

This cake has some coconut in it, but it's sooo good, that even those that don't like coconut are asking for another slice! Seriously. I served this cake to one of the biggest anti-coconut people I have ever known. Yup... Wanted more cake!

I kept the cake true to the original recipe, but did tinker with the frosting a bit. Just added some toasted coconut and pecans. Man oh man, that frosting was so good, I am surprised I had enough left to get on the cake, because it was so good on my spoon :)

Italian Cream Cake

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour tube pan; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Slowly beat in 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently pour eggs whites into another bowl; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.  In small bowl, add baking soda to buttermilk. Add buttermilk mixture to batter, alternating with flour. Mix well after each addition. Fold in egg whites until completely incorporated with batter. Gently fold in coconut and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until cake golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Invert pan until cool, then remove cake from pan.

Italian Cream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 pound powdered sugar
1/3 cup coconut, toasted (optional)
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Once cake is cooled, combine butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Slowly add sugar, beating until smooth and creamy.

Cut cake in half, horizontally.  Add layer of frosting to the bottom of cake, place top of cake on top of frosting.  To remaining frosting, add coconut and pecans mixing until evenly distributed. Frost remainder of cake.

Store covered in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Source: The Crown of Southern Cooking

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Monday, May 16, 2016

November or May?

The garden was doing fabulous! Everything was growing well, except for the potatoes. We are giving up on them.  I had given up on them last year, but Truckin' Man wanted to try one more time. They just don't like it here, and I can accept that!

Chickens were even released from day time restrictions, being allowed full free range permissions again.

Then the weather changed. On Friday the 13th (coincidence?) the hype started to warn us of the upcoming chance for frost for Saturday night/ Sunday morning. Plenty of notice, even though we weren't happy, we were warned. The predictions kept getting stronger and closer. When we were out shopping Saturday afternoon, I got the text update from our local weather station that we were now under a Freeze Warning?! What? It's the middle of May!

Like everyone else, we started covering all our plants that night. Every spare sheet, 5 gallon bucket, tupperware, you name it... If it could cover a plant, we were using it. 

And we failed. It took all of our tomatoes, and most of our peppers. Even though they were covered.
  I have yet to hear of anyone who had a tomato make it through.  Greenhouses lost as well. 

My town isn't listed on here, but these were the temps in our area.

But, in the end, our strawberries survived which is what we were most worried about,
 since those we can't just replant and still harvest this year. 

This is what a frost killed baby sweet corn plant looks like.

But, other things are still happy. Like our lettuce! 
I just noticed how our lettuce is not in any form of a straight line? 
Guess I must have stopped for a cookie break in the middle of planting?


How are the temps in your area?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Big Rig

Ever since I renamed the blog, I haven't shared much on the truckin' end of things.  That is primarily due to Truckin' Mans new job. Not that it's new anymore. 

He sold off the Peterbilt a while back and went to work for a heavy haul company. When he started there, it was through a hiring agency, and I couldn't be in the truck. After he was fully on with the company, I just never had the opportunity to ride with. This job is a Monday - Friday job, and home nights! Awesome, right? It is unless you want to go for a ride with your husband!

Well, I finally had a chance. There was a short local run to pick up one piece of equipment, so away we went.

I see this truck in the driveway everyday, and never realized how much bigger the Mack is compared to the Peterbilt we knew for so many years. Dang, that was a jump getting in there.

I finally made it in!

You set really high up in this rig!

For the equipment we were picking up this time, the trailer has to come off the truck, so that the equipment can be driven up on. Interesting!

If the workers have already left the job site, Truckin' Man gets to drive the equipment himself.
His dream job!

Once the equipment is loaded, the trailer is hooked back up, and we are ready to roll again. 

 Fun, right?