Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Some of the Week's Best
"In wilderness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau
Advice from the Wilderness
Keep a sense of  adventure
Listen to the Wind
Be taken by wonder
Tread lightly on the earth
Immerse yourself in nature
let the storms pass
Take a hike
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (April 4, 1869 – January 8, 1958) was an American architect and designer. She was one of the very few female American architects in her day and the designer of many landmark buildings and spaces for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, notably in Grand Canyon National Park.  She was a true visionary in the male dominated 1900's as her work had enormous influence as she helped to create a style, blending Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs and rustic elements, that became popular throughout the Southwest. 
As an architect, she built structures that blend into the native landscapes in ways that enhance the landscape rather than detract from it. 
Attention: Little known fact she came from St. Paul, MN.

Mary Colter wanted to be an artist as a young girl growing up in St. Paul, and carried that passion to an art school in San Francisco with the end goal of teaching. While attending art school, she was taken under the wing of an architect and learned to apply her talent as an artist to designing buildings. For 15 years after graduating from art school, Colter taught  classes at Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul after a brief stint teaching art in Menomonie.

After those 15 years, she took on a couple of short-term design jobs decorating for the Fred Harvey Company, moving closer to the canyon as her interest shifted to design. After each short-term decoration job, she moved right back to St. Paul, but in 1910, she had earned a permanent and prestige position with the Fred Harvey Company designing and decorating Grand Canyon hotels, restaurants, and other amenities.
Some of the buildings Coulter designed include:
– The Lookout Studio
– Hermit’s Rest
– Phantom Ranch
– The Watchtower
– Bright Angel Lodge

Over her 30-year career as chief architect and designer for the Fred Harvey Company, Colter oversaw 21 major projects along the railroad lines, and as rare as female architects were during the early 1900s, Colter was one of the best architects of her time, dwarfing the achievements of many acclaimed men in her field. She drew inspiration from the rocks and trees that made up the landscapes that were her canvas and her work was influenced by Native American culture.
A recommended read to find out more about this pioneer architect of the southwest.  
I really enjoyed this book. It is a wonderful tribute to a woman whose life's work with the Harvey Enterprises was to preserve Native Indian customs, designs and artifacts through her architecture designs. Not only do you learn information about her but there are photos and information about the buildings she designed and important features of the world at that time. She drew her inspiration for her building styles from the local inhabitants and the history of the areas they were to be built in. She was pleased to pay homage to them in her works.
And check out this book list from Buzz Feed for your 2016 reading list 

Texas Sheet (Sheath) Cake aka: Mexican Chocolate Cake

Cook’s note: I dare not mess too much with this classic cake that epitomizes Southern and Western hospitality. But I will say there are many variations of this recipe to choose from online and in cookbooks. Some use sour cream in the cake while other recipes opt for using buttermilk instead. Mexican Chocolate Cake gets 5 stars from me and it was so easy to put together. It's a crowd pleaser and Oscar worthy if you are throwing a party next week. 

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup water or freshly brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • optional 1/8 cup Kahlua
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 TB. unsweetened cocoa
  • 9 TB. milk
  • 2-1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 TB. Kahlua

  • Melt butter in saucepan, add cocoa and water or coffee. Bring to a boil and set this mixture aside.
  • In a bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, soda, espresso powder  and pour into hot cocoa mixture stirring with a wooden spoon to mix well.
  • Beat eggs and add in buttermilk, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, optional Kahlua. Pour into chocolate mixture and beat well. 
  • Pour batter into greased 13 x 9 pan or a jelly roll pan with sides.
  • Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes in a 13 x 9 pan or 400@ for 20 minutes in jelly roll with sides -check center for doneness with large toothpick.
  • Cool cake 15 minutes before pouring on freshly made frosting 
  • Melt butter in saucepan medium low heat and add cocoa and milk, whisking to blend well
  • Bring to a boil and set pan aside. Add to pan powdered sugar and beat well to remove lumps. Optional adding in 2 TB. Kahlua. You may have to add a little more milk for right consistency.
  • Pour icing over cake and sprinkle nuts immediately on frosting- the frosting amount is generous so you might think about not using all but any left over icing tastes great right out of the bowl :)

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