"Place, with a trace of humanity" Photography/Photo of the Day/Pittsburgh


Change: From Dough to Cookies

Change is this week’s photography challenge and Friday I posted my children as they are all grown up with families of their own.  I’ve looked at quite a few fellow bloggers posts and didn’t see this one yet but I might have missed it.  So many possibilities for posts illustrating change.  

I was baking some cookies, noticed the mixing bowl of dough, and I thought- change.

I went to the other room and got the real camera instead of the phone.

The light seemed nice in the kitchen.


cookie dough

Oatmeal Crisps from the Farm Journal Cookbook (1972 ed.)

 I cut the recipe in half and left out the coconut. You could add nuts and/or raisins.

My minor adjustments to the original recipe below.



1 C butter, room temp ( I happened to have Irish butter on hand)

1 C brown sugar

3/4 C white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 C flour

3 C Bob’s Red Mill Oats

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

dash of cinnamon and dash of ginger

Bake about 11 minutes @ 350


Thanks to Kristin Snow for the challenge this week. You have to check out her blog Snowmads

Excerpt from her blog is below.  You will be inspired for adventure after reading it.  

“Who are the Snowmads?

We’re Jason and Kristin Snow, a travel-addicted couple who walked away from cubicles and conventional lives two years ago to roam full-time, gaining valuable perspective on life and meeting new friends at every turn. We hope to inspire others to follow their dreams and collect experiences instead of things. Please feel free to share some travel tips right back at us whenever possible — we love hearing from you!”

Aunt Georgeann Brought Cupcakes from Regent Square

Four of the grandchildren are visiting for the weekend, along with their parents. Saturday night we had dinner and guests. Aunt Georgeann came to see how they’d grown. She arrived with a big pink box.


She knew there was almond, lemon, red velvet, and a carrot cake with the sliver of candied ginger, plus two chocolate with espresso frosting.  A dozen sweet cakes.We needed a key but came up with a solution.

She’d stopped off in Regent Square at Vanilla Pastry Studio Molly gave me this birthday gift of a  Rooster Harkerware piece just yesterday.

Aunt Georgeann cut them in half so the kids could decide what they wanted to eat. It was fun to try the different flavors. 


You can see everyone enjoyed the treat! 

I took one of the leftovers and put it on a cupcake stand Joanne gave me years ago.

Practicing my food photography.

 I wanted to show the big pink box!

One More Plum Torte Post

JJBegonias post of Marian Burros Plum Torte has inspired many to bake one.

My friend Roberta made a couple and gave me one she baked but unfortunately Steve and I ate it without thinking about photographing it,

I made one for my friend Josie’s parents and then her sister Carol made one and Josie sent me a photo of it on the phone. Looks like they paired it with a cup of coffee.  Mmmm.

Carol's plum Torte


Then here is the one I made



Happy Day or 1-2-3-4 Cake?

 If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning, you might remember the photos and recipes.On several occasions, I’ve posted our  “go to” birthday cake recipes.
 My sister got me the one Swan’s Down vintage cake pan in Omak, Washington when were visiting our brother one summer.
I did mail a birthday card to my sister.  (Unusual for me that it wasn’t belated)
In my family, we’d try to get it in the octave, as my mom would call it.  Enjoy your day!

Happy Day Cake Recipe-

For Birthdays it was the 1-2-3-4 Cake recipe or the Happy Day Cake recipe on the back of the Swan’s Down Cake Flour box, frosted with Penuche icing.  My mother would put the saucepan into a sink of cold water and then beat it by hand once it cooled. I can hear the ring of the metal loop at the end of the pan’s handle. And as I remember it she added a dash of vanilla extract.  My dad would pour milk over a slice and eat it with a spoon.   Cake and frosting recipes below photo.

Happy Birthday to my sister Mary who gave me the vintage pan

Happy Day Cake

2½ cups sifted cake flour

1½ cups sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

Sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir shortening to soften. Add flour mixture, ¾ cup of the milk and vanilla. Mix until all flour is dampened, then beat two minutes at medium speed. Add eggs and remaining ¼ cup milk. Beat one minute longer. Pour into two 9-inch layer pans that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans; remove from pans and cool thoroughly on racks.

This cake also may be baked in three 8-inch layer pans for 25 to 35 minutes, or in a 13- by 9-inch pan for 30 to 35 minutes. Batter may be spooned into 36 medium paper baking cups in muffin pans, filling half full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Penuche Frosting   Butter is Key


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, more or less
  • hot water, optional


In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low and continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually add sifted confectioners’ sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little hot water. Frosts top and sides of a 2-layer cake or a 13×9-inch cake.


p.s. Last year I mailed an actual cake but this year it will be virtual

and another connection was the post when my friend J sent me a cupcake tree to Ohio when I was visiting

Fellow blogger inspires my friend’s dessert for dinner guests 

Thursday I shared a blog post with my friend Roberta. It was from a blog I follow-(http://jjbegonia.com/marian-burros-plum-torte/) with Marion Burros Plum Torte recipe included in the post. 

Roberta made it that night for dinner guests.

Sent the two photos and I asked her permission to share. She’s guest blogger today.  Here’s what she said-

I made it with apricots since there were no Italian prune plums at the market, but otherwise didn’t change a thing. I can see why people love this recipe–so easy and so good. Thanks a million–it’s a keeper! R  

Check out the Plum torte post by jjbegonia to see her beautiful plum torte photos and recipe which inspired the apricot torte!

We Used To Be Off School February 22

First day of March and I’m a week
off but I’m blogging from my phone while sitting in the dark in my granddaughters room. Some of the family already headed out to a swim meet.

Here’s the vein of memory sparked by these photos – not for certain when Presidents Day started but will google.

My mother had a small cookie cuter in the shape of a hatchet.
Baked sugar cookies and the skinny dough hatchet handles would break off so easily.

She also made a pie like dessert with canned sour cherries and every so often you’d find a pit. I remember her stirring the juice on the stove with cornstarch to thicken, a crusty biscuit on top, baked.

This pie, a purchased one, reminded me of her efforts to celebrate Washington’s Birthday when I was growing up.

I’ve baked a chocolate log for Lincoln when the kids were small.

For this impromptu photo op, I pulled out the Presidents’ teapot J gave me and then remembered my parents George plate in the china cabinet.

The year mark (77-78) and I lived in Philadelphia while his dad was in Korea, my mom or dad would rock Mark in the big wooden rocker( it’s in his office now) and he’d look up at the blue plate on the wall and say “George” when you’d ask him “who’s that?”



When it bakes, you smell autumn

One of the good things about fall.

It’s a simple dessert. The time of year when the apples are perfect, so fresh

A sign of fall.  Apple Crisp.

If you want to be inspired with Apples Galore, stop by Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide blog.

I peeled a lot of apples(10), sliced and chopped and put them into a buttered 9×13 glass dish.

Cut a stick of butter into 2 cups of oats (we skip the flour) some salt and about 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Just hint of cinnamon, not to overpower the apples.

Crumble the buttery oatmeal crumbs over the apples.  Bake about 50 minutes.

Marlene adds a cup of cranberries to her apples and that makes it nice and tart with the contrast of sweet.

(and a little salty caramel or vanilla ice cream on the side- or even mint, eh Maura?)

Golden Delicious Apples

apples on the cutting board

Oh no, I didn’t photograph the fragrant apple crisp as it cooled or when it was dished up on plates with the ice cream.

We just ate it!

The cake’s in the mail – almost- well, after school Monday

Last year or the year before, I forget which year, I didn’t get a birthday card mailed.

But this year………

since it’s my sister’s birthday Monday,

and she’s going to visit our brother and his wife in Okanogon WA on Tuesday,

I thought I’d bake a cake with our mother’s old recipe. The Happy Day Cake.  I decided to cook the old fashioned penuche icing, you have to put your hand on the bottom of the pan after it sits in cool water, then add the 10x sugar and beat it, just like our mom did and frost the layers.  Tomorrow after school,  I’ll ship it off for them to share.

I put it in a tin, packed it up and it’s in the front hall, taped in a box, ready to mail.

 It’s a Happy Day Cake  recipe from Swan’s Down Cake Flour box from way back.  You can see it written in my sister’s hand on a quilt square from the fiftieth anniversary quilt we made for my parents in 1989. 

And I put in a pound of Zeke’s coffee beans to go with it.   Happy Birthday Mary.  



A Full Pound in Zeke’s Bag of Beans

You know how I love coffee.  That one wonderful cup in the morning.

This morning I receive a text from a colleague who’s teaching art in a different school this year. 

He texted where to come for coffee in East Liberty.        Zeke’s.       Huh?              I couldn’t picture it in my mind.

 Zeke’s Coffee on Penn Ave at Highland Ave.  Only 1.5 miles from my home.  I found it easily once I made the left turn onto Penn it was right there all the time.

And I’ve driven 50 feet from it several times a day and not turned down that particular block on my route.  

Today was the first time I was introduced to the locally roasted delicious coffee. And they’ve been there since 2011!

I bought two bags for friends and family to try and my car smelled like a roastery when I got home. Mmmmmm.

Owned by Chris and Tom (who were out at Farmers Market selling the full one pound bags of their beans that they roasted themselves) In fact that’s how they started at Farmers Market and now they go to NINE of them. ( I looked it up and there was no apostrophe in Farmers Market) 

 I met Brye the baker (wife of Chris) and Alex was the barista and operated the register.  I asked if I could photograph them for the blog and they agreed. Steve and I plan to return in the morning when they open at 8.  





The Color is What Caught My Eye

Whether it be flowers in a garden, a rainbow in traffic, or colorful cake mixes on the store shelf.

The color is what caught my eye!

Unsure about actual consumption, though.      Here’s how I came to see these boxes of cake mix……

After school, I drove down to the Waterfront to get gas, stock up on provisions. Lunch items to take to school.

Target was right there and I needed more wonderful 8GB Flash Drives that are still at a low, low price.  The ones they keep by the checkout line so you can load up as you head out the door.  Must be an old shipment as the ones up front are two dollars cheaper than the ones in the electronic section in the back.  (Hope I didn’t clue them in and they change the price!)

Now you might already know if you follow the blog,  I really don’t like to eat anything blue

(with the exception of fresh blueberries)

but those fakey blue raspberry popsicles?

Just looking at blue food/icing gives me a shudder down my spine.

But if you need to bake a Smurf cake, the Blue Suede mix might be your answer.

I can definitely see some of these colorful cake mixes as the basis for art/photography projects.

And from what I read on Charm City website,    “Our inspiration comes from everywhere: art, fashion, fabric, furniture, architecture, landscapes, science, music, and history.”   


iPhone shots of the cake mix shelves



Inspiration for the colorful cake mixes, created by Duff Goldman

 Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis

Found at least 3 Pink Cadillac songs

Bruce Springsteen,

Natalie Cole, Jerry Lee Lewis

And Prince won an Oscar in 1985 for Purple Rain







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