Thursday, July 30, 2020

Still Baking...

I present to you, my very first Victoria Sandwich cake. Another bake inspired by the Great British Baking Show. It looks impressive but it was easy. (Though it wouldn't have been with a two hour time limit and virtually no recipe like the bakers get in the show.)  It's just two layers, buttercream icing and jam. The cake isn't very sweet because the sweetness of the jam would be too much with a super sweet cake. The only changes I made were I used blueberry jam instead of raspberry and I iced the top and bottom edges. (I had extra icing so, why not.)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Too Close for Comfort

I haven't enjoyed riding the ferry this summer. Unless I ride at an off time, the boats are absolutely jam packed; and that makes social distancing rather difficult. My solution has been to always ride on the covered upper deck whenever possible. At least if there are people close to me we're outside in the open air. 

The other day Star Line was running a different boat to Mackinaw City - one of the boats with an uncovered upper deck. Of course the day I needed to go across it was pouring down rain, so the upper deck wasn't really an option.  I sat below - in the very last row of seats. 

People continued to board the ferry behind me, trying to spread out as best they could. It was the first boat off the island in the morning, and as is typical for the 8:00 am boat, there weren't a ton of passengers. As I'm patiently waiting for the boat to head out into the Straits, a woman slides in right next to me. Never mind that there are five empty rows of seats in front of me - five empty rows, and this woman chooses to sit right next to me in the same row.

Now, it is important to know the boat lines are following our Governor's mandate that masks must be worn in public places. On every trip Star Line tells passengers they are "required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth for the duration of the crossing." This woman was the only person I would see on the boat who wasn't wearing a mask.

I politely asked her, "If you're going to sit here, would you please put on a mask?" 

She gave me a dirty look and snapped back, "I have a medical exemption."

I choose not to argue with her - maybe she really did have a medical condition. "OK," I said with a smile, "then would you mind choosing a different seat?" and I motioned to the plethora of empty rows. After an exaggerated eye roll and a huff she did get up and move, although she ignored me when I thank her.

I get that masks are uncomfortable. I get that she didn't want to wear one. I even get that there is a slight chance she might actually have a legitimate medical reason not to wear one. What I don't get is why she chose to sit right next to me where there were all those empty seats available. Why not go sit in a row by yourself? It was almost like she was intentionally trying to provoke me into an argument. I wasn't going to bite.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Baking Again...

Orange meringue pie this time...

Our neighbors had some friends up to visit, and as is common on Mackinac, those friends brought presents. People realize it's a little more complicated to get things on the island, so when they're coming to visit they usually offer to bring up anything we might need. (When our friends ask, we generally request cases of caffeine-free diet coke, if you're wondering.)

Their friends brought two bags of oranges and our neighbors didn't think they could eat all of them before they spoiled, so they gifted a bag to us. We weren't going to get through our bag before they spoiled either, so I used fresh squeezed orange juice to make the pie.

Not the best picture, but trust me it was delicious! Although if I make it again, I will substitute the lemon juice the recipe calls for with more orange juice.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Crazy Chicken Lady

We got the chickens back considerably later than usual this year, due to the Covid-19 lock down. I didn't realize just how much I missed having them around until we got them back in June.  Then, the kids and I picked up a few new feathered friends up in Dafter. (They are buff orpingtons with the fluffiest little backsides you've ever seen!)  They're growing fast and I think they like me. That, or they've realized I'm the one who brings the treats. Either way, they're a hoot. I enjoy my visits with them, at least I will, until I get pooped on...

We've been getting two to five eggs every day from our older girls - which is great. It's enough for us and the neighbors,  leaving a few to preserve for the winter (when the girls head back to our friend's house in Cheboygan.) If you're curious, we're preserving the eggs using lime water. We'll see how it goes. It's kind of an experiment at this point. Two years ago I froze 15 dozen to get us through the winter, but they took up a lot of freezer space. I'm excited about the lime water method since it will free up the freezer space for other things. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


During quarantine this spring I discovered The Great British Baking Show. It's right up my alley - chock full of delicious sweets and British humor. Of course, I've had to try a few things. This week it was the classic Bakewell Tart, which to be honest, I had never heard of. Though the kids and I do think we ate one in Iceland last summer. (We didn't know what it was really called because when  Google translated the Icelandic into English it came up as "Chum.")

It was delicious! (And not overly complicated - though you do need almond flour.) The crust was very similar to the crust in a treacle tart. Instead of making the raspberry jam the recipe called for, I used blueberry jam I made last summer. This was so good and so easy - I see more of these in our future. I just need to get a bigger tart pan!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Lucky Me

My friend, Heather, the owner of May's Candy Shop, on Mackinac Island.  Last week I was lucky enough to get to help her out at the shop for a couple of days, and did I ever have fun!

Don't get me wrong, making fudge is hard work, but I loved every minute of it. (It's hot work, too.) Heather helped me nerd out and answered all my questions about the original equipment her grandfather used and how important temperature is when making fudge. (She cooks hers a specific temperature - measured in half degrees.) For my first lesson, I learned how to measure the ingredients. Did you know every batch of fudge contains more than 20 pounds of deliciousness?

Together Heather and I made several varieties of fudge (delicious if I do say so myself.)

We made candy, too; peanut brittle and picoflake - a confection similar to peanut brittle but with coconut flakes and less brittle, 

and blue raspberry flavored sea foam puffs (my daughter's favorite.)

The best part was I got to lick the spoon! (Of course it was after everything was finished and right before the spoon was going into the sink to be washed. No cross contamination - I promise.)

If you visit Mackinac this summer, please consider getting your candy and fudge from May's. Not only is Heather a fourth generation candy maker and owner of the Island's only remaining family-owned fudge shop, but she is also the music teacher at our school. So, supporting her is supporting a small family business and a teacher. That's a win - win in my book.

May's Candy Shop
7351 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
(906) 847-6486

Her shop is on the water side of Main Street.
Keep your eyes out for her
blue and white striped awning.
This review of May's Candy Shop is my opinion.
Other than a great time and a few spoon licks, I was not compensated in any way.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Independance Day 2020

Happy Independence Day from Mackinac Island! I snapped this picture of Market Street Inn yesterday when I was in town. Downtown has been absolutely packed lately. Only about 50% of the people are wearing masks and social distancing is impossible while walking on the sidewalks, so I'm steering clear of town whenever I can. (I get that masks are hot and it's impossible to wear one and eat ice cream at the same time, but come on people!) Since we are trying to avoid the throngs of people, we are also skipping the fireworks tonight.  My husband will be able to watch from out on the Rescue Boat while they enforce the "safety zone" around the fireworks barge. I'm quite certain he'll be too busy to stop to take pictures for me. So instead, I'll share this picture of the Island's fireworks I took back in 2017.

The only fireworks I will be seeing this year are the ones on my mask when I venture into town. Missing the fireworks makes me sad but getting sick would make me sadder, so I've made my peace with it. The kids don't know it yet, but we're going to celebrate tonight with homemade ice cream and the 1990s classic movie Independence Day.  What are you doing to celebrate this year?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hanging Out

Remember when I told you how well my garden has been doing? Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. This is what I came home to yesterday afternoon.

Don't see it? 

Here, let me zoom in for you:

It's an eastern garter snake just hanging out in the flowers and basking in the sun. (They're very common on the Island.) My daughter thinks this one might be living under our porch. Our neighbor hopes this little guy understands the meaning of "social distancing" and  will stay on our side of the street.