March is blowing its way into our lives. After a beautiful, balmy week, we awoke to pounding rain this morning, along with dreary, overcast skies. Since our plans for outside work were sidelined, I decided to organize my "new" pantry, do a little housework and bake a cake to go with our afternoon tea.
Shouse living can be interesting, particularly when it comes to storage. Our kitchen is completely "unfitted", meaning that every cupboard, stove and pantry is free-standing, none matching the other. Our kitchen has evolved over the years, beginning with industrial shelving, a home-made counter-top and open shelves to hold our dishes. Now we have a cupboard unit (out of an early 1900's restaurant), complete with drawers and flour bins and grocery store shelving (from a depression era grocery) has replaced the industrial racking. Even with the shelving, my kitchen storage was severely limited, so a number of years ago my parents gave us a pantry they'd had built to fit in the small kitchen of our single-wide trailer. It was perfect for our kitchen, not taking up very much space but providing much needed extra storage space. Unfortunately, our home is often the end of the line for poor, unsuspecting furniture. Everything we own is WELL used, and my parents pantry was no different.
I have been looking for a replacement pantry for a while, but the niche in our kitchen that we could put a cupboard was small, and finding just the right pantry proved to be a difficult challenge. One afternoon, on an excursion to town, Maid Elizabeth and I walked into an antique mall/flea market and what did my eyes behold but the perfect cupboard for our kitchen pantry! I didn't buy it on the spot, but measured it and thought about it and decided that if it was still there when I went back to the store I would bring it home. And so I did.
The cupboard was a perfect fit! It has so much storage space (much more than my old pantry) and I have thoroughly enjoyed organizing it to make it work for our family.
My pantry cupboard isn't our only new kitchen acquisition. We also replaced our old farmhouse kitchen table! We bought our table 20 years ago when we had two children and a small kitchen. At the time we thought it was HUGE (at 6' long), but over the years, as our family increased the table seemed to shrink. After moving into the shouse, we noticed a few other challenges - it was too wide for our dining area and the legs made it difficult to fit extra chairs around the table. In order to make things work, we moved the table every day (sometimes 3 times a day), keeping it tucked in next to the garage door when not in use and pulling it out into the room when we had a meal. It worked, but caused a lot of wear and tear to the table. Another disadvantage was that it was very difficult to seat more than our family at the table, and even that was a little tight. Holiday meals were truly challenging, seating some people around the table and scattering the rest throughout various spots in the house.
A few weeks ago we found a table on Craigslist that was longer (8 feet) and narrower than our farm table and it had a trestle rather than 4 legs. And to top it off, it was priced at yard sale pricing. Sir Knight and I drove to a town an hour away, loaded up the table and hauled it back to Little Shouse on the Prairie. It has been wonderful! I was a able to bring our big garden bench in and put it on one side of the table (it easily seats 5) and put chairs at the head, foot and other side. At a tea party last week I set the table for 9 and enjoyed a comfortable, non-squeezed luncheon! We can easily seat 12 and still have room to move around!
As I mentioned earlier, not only did I organize the pantry today, I also make a coffee cake to accompany our afternoon tea. It was a lovely cake, with a tight, cake-like crumb (not coarse like many coffee cakes) and lots of cinnamon streusel. It is perfect for a blustery afternoon, especially if you melt butter on each slice before serving!
Streusel Coffee Cake
For the streusel:
1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 C all-purpose flour
2 1/2 T cinnamon
6 T butter, melted
Combine streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cubes butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 C sour cream (or yogurt)
1 1/2 C milk
3 3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9" baking pan.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until well blended and light. Add sour cream and milk. Beat until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Layer 1/2 of the streusel over the batter. Spread remaining batter over the streusel filling. Top with remaining streusel.
Put the pan on a larger cookie sheet and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Serve warm with dollops of butter on top.
|Ready for tea!|
|Coffee Cake with melting butter on top.....|
|Maid Elizabeth's tea cup|
I hope you too, are enjoying a blustery, cozy March afternoon! Remember, these are the good ol' days!