Strawberry Cake

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There comes a time when you break down and listen to that voice in your head that is screaming for cake. That day, my friends was this past Monday. This weekend I made a trip to the farmer’s market and made off like a bandit on one of my finds. 8 containers of strawberries for $6. I almost ran to my car after I paid for the berries before Mr.Seller dude changed his mind. I flash froze more than half of them for smoothies and shakes, but the other berries sat in the fridge for a day or two taunting me every time I cracked the door. I kept dreaming of a cake with big chunks of fruit inside. It simply had to be done!

After perusing through my share of strawberry cakes that claimed to be from scratch but had gelatin (gasp!!) I found the winning one on one of my favorite blogs, smitten kitchen. It is a simple unassuming batter topped with a ton of berries, and sprinkled with sugar to help the strawberries turn into jam. It is simply perfect! The recipe called for a cup of sugar in the batter,  but I cut it down to 3/4 cup so the sweetness of the strawberries would be the star. I’m so glad it did. It was just the right amount of sweet for me.

I will give a firm warning though…. do not bake this cake, pull it out of the oven with just enough time to set it on the counter and snap one picture and assume it is safe to take more pictures when you return home in a couple of hours. Especially not if you have two daughters and a husband prowling around. I present exhibit A.

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This is what I found. The culprits were all in bed, with full tummies, I presume. The cake lasted less than 24 hours at my house, and we shall miss it dearly 🙂

Adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

-Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan ( I used a 9-inch spring foam pan). Do not use a 9-inch regular pie dish because it will overflow.
-Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
-Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle-remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

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-Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream. (I totally forgot to turn the temperature down, and baked mine at 350 Degrees F for 48 minutes).
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Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but clearly it didn’t survive that long at my house!
Devotion For The Day:
Two years ago, my family started planting potted plants. It is a fun project for my older daughter because she actually gets to see the plants change over time, and there’s the added bonus that when she’s off school for the summer, she gets paid to water the plants. We do flowers all year round in some pots, and herbs in some for the spring and summer. This year we were late in starting her off with her job, and we ended up with VERY dried out rose bushes. It was remarkable how quickly they went from blooming in the spring, to bone dry a few weeks later. I felt terrible, because I was sure they were gone for good. I was actually getting ready to pull them out and toss them, but my husband pruned them off and insisted that if we water them consistently for a few weeks, they will survive. I will be honest and say that I was extremely skeptical, but figured we might as well try.
Well, they are back! A week or so ago, green new leaves started breaking through, and we were so excited about it. Walking past them the other day, I had this thought that has stayed with me. I thought of all the times that I have been in such a dire situation that I thought all was lost, or when I have watched someone and thought that there is no way that they can get out of the jam that they are in. Except with God, nothing is impossible. He can breath life into a situation that looks totally dead, and bring life to it. I have seen too many lives changed to doubt any more.
Two verses come to mind. John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. The second is Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.
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Marinated Vegetable Salad

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It’s the summer! A few months ago, I thought summer would never arrive. It was the winter that outlasted it’s welcome. I plan on enjoying the next few weeks outdoors with the kids, before it becomes smoldering.. cook an egg on the concrete hot. As a foodie, summer is my time! I love the abundant options when it comes to fruit and veggies. This salad is one of those recipes that screams summer time. A friend of mine brought this salad to my house a couple months ago, and it has become my go-to pot luck side item. I was really intrigued by it, to be honest because I had politely served a sparing portion preparing myself not to like it, and ended up LOVING it and returning for a generous second helping. I have made this salad for the last four weeks straight, so I believe it has earned itself a spot on the blog.

If you plan on making this, please allow a few hours for the flavors to soak into the veggies. The longer they sit, the better they taste. I have gotten into the habit of making it the day before I need it, and the flavors are fantastic the next day. It is a pretty forgiving recipe, in case you forget to buy an ingredient as I did this time. I like to include olives or pickled peppers, but they somehow escaped from my shopping cart this weekend. I took this to a memorial day BBQ , and it was a huge hit.

Adapted from Paula Deen.

Makes 8 servings.
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (grey poupon is the best I’ve tried)
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon sugar
11/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 medium head cauliflower (about 3 cups)
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 medium zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, dijon mustard, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
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In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, onion and feta. Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss together to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple hours, or up to a day, stirring occasionally. The longer it sits, the better the flavors are.
Enjoy!
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Devotion for the day:
Psalms 145:1-9

1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

I love verse 8-9. It paints such a beautiful picture of the nature of God. Filled with grace and compassion over us as His precious children.