Category Archives: Playing in the Kitchen

Our adventure into the family catering business, fun in the kitchen, recipes & more!

Third Day 20th Anniversary Cake Part 3

Several folks had asked for close up shots  and pics of us making this cake via Facebook and Twitter so that’s why I’m taking the time to journal the making of said cake with more detail than I usually would. It was an especially fun cake to do so I don’t mind a bit. Having several family members contribute to the creation of this edible work of art makes the memory worth keeping so I’m happy to “scrapbook” this here. I have a lot of pics so I’m not going to try to put it all in one post – you have stuff to do and other blogs to read.

If you missed it, visit Part 1 and Part 2 then you’ll be caught up to speed.

First of all, we had to make Cake Pops for some Gomers who have heard about them and have seen our photos of them. We also like to take some for Lott, the tour manager, as he seems to like them quite a bit. If he’s just faking it for our  sake, he’s doing a good job. We’ve learned that the band doesn’t usually get the treats folks bring them (bummer since that’s one of our “love languages!”) but Lott acts like he’s going to steal them when we bring them. SO, we gave him his own and the band got stuck with cake.

FINISHING THE CAKE BEFORE TRANSPORTING

I forgot to include the cake board when I started this. One of our signature elements: folks get a kick out of serving out cake to discover a message or picture hiding beneath. I was hoping to use the Come Together symbol with a photo but ran into technical difficulties and didn’t have time to make it happen.

 Back to the drum: Before I took a good look at what instruments we’d be putting on the cake, I purchased Opalescent spray for that “sparkly drum” look. THEN, I asked for help from Gomers for good pics and did my homework. The realization that David Carr’s Craviotto Drums are wood grain left me wondering what the heck I was going to make sparkly cuz I was bound and determined to use my spray paint! Darn.

I went to work on the last of the hardware attaching pieces with Piping Gel. Jillian and the small fries had already made the smaller pieces so it was a “simple” matter of assembly and painting. Cakes can be so….stupid. Sometimes,  I swear they’re living, breathing, evil creatures just waiting for us humans to try to shape them into something fabulous but they decide to be “in control” and rebel against their maker!!! Okay, I’ll calm down. Enough of that…stupid cake.

I made a couple of shades of vodka paint with brown icing color for the wood grain. Icing color tends to deepen or darken as it dries so I kept working with the colors trying to get them to match David’s drums expecting the paint to act like icing. It doesn’t work the same, I found. I made a vodka paint with luster dust  and used that Opalescent spray for the hardware. I tried the sliver metallic spray and was not happy with the results. I’ve used the gold before and that looks great but the silver looked blue.  Luster dust for silver. Write that down.

This was where we stopped on the cake on Wednesday, May 16. We loaded the layers in a Cambro carrier with he exception of the 14″ bottom layer which didn’t fit so it was placed on top of the carrier. Each layer was placed on a piece of foam covered with a “grip mat” and the cakes survived the trip with minimal damage. Some pieces slid out of place but I was thrilled that we drove a cake from Indiana to North Carolina and they made it! Our first long-distance delivery. Yay!

Thanks for taking a gander!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

Third Day 20th Anniversary Cake – Part 2

Visit HERE for Part 1.

So…our kitchen took me back to the days when my walls were plastered with posters of my favorite bands.

Work commences on the “Revelation PRS”:


Cakes like this really trash the kitchen. Just sayin’.
For the wood grain on the Fender bass head, I made a “vodka paint.” No worries, folks; it evaporates completely and leaves no flavor.  In fact, it evaporates so fast, it kept drying out in my bowl. For the metallic hardware, we started with the edible spray paint but was not satisfied with the results so we made paint out of vodka and luster dust. 
Alrighty – that’s all I have time for. I just wanted to try and get some more in while I had a breather.
Have a great week!
What’s not shared is lost.
God bless,
Michelle

Sandwich Wrap Rap

Ham, sweet mayo, fixins and swiss cheese.
Avocado, pepper, spinach, sprouts  Veggie please.
Or bacon, ‘mato, lettuce, turkey with cream cheese spread,
The TBLT  is what a bunch of peeps are fed.
 
The Salsa Ranch Chicken Wrap is quickly gaining fame.
We think it most amazing – we really have no shame.
Folks are craving sandwich wraps; we are happy to provide
Because our wraps are the bomb, I really must confide.
 

Okay, I know, that is pretty lame. We made a boatload of wraps this week so I was feeling inspired. Fechers’ Panache has been pretty uneventful as of late but we were blessed with two days of corporate box lunch orders, Thursday at Wayne Dairy and today at Reid Hospital Oncology, and we made A LOT of wraps. (Did I mention that already?) We also had some croissant sandwiches thrown in the mix today, our Chicken Salad and Apple Tuna Salad, but wraps are, by far our most popular sandwich.

I thought I’d share some Sandwich Wrap “expertise” so, when you aren’t able to partake in a luncheon catered by an amazing caterer like Fechers’ Panache, you can pack awesome sandwich wraps to take for lunch or for those trips to the pool that are just around the corner. (I’m still chuckling at the use of “expertise” here – this stuff is so easy, it’s laughable. “You, too, can be a wrap expert!”)

Instead of regular Tuna Salad sandwiches, add some chopped apples to your Tuna Salad and wrap it up with leaf lettuce in a tortilla – much butter. Any of your sandwich salads are incredible as a wrap. Dress up that traditional BLT by adding Herb-roasted Turkey and “Chayo” :

Chayo
1/2 cup chive and onion cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Mix well. Never use regular mayonnaise again.
You’re welcome.

Another often-neglected tip some folks do think of is using a panini grill for your wrap! Oh. Yum. It’s worth taking the 10 minutes it takes to preheat your grill and heat til hot and crispy. No panini grill? Preheat 2 skillets, place wrap in larger skillet then put smaller, preheated skillet on top. Voila! Panini grill. I would have thought that with the popularity of fajitas, heating up sandwich wraps was a given but we’ve had several customers impressed with our skill with the panini grill (don’t make me start rappin’ again).

Salsa Ranch Chicken Wrap

One more wrap need-to-know: tortillas come in flavors. This is a news flash for some folks. Our Salsa Ranch Chicken Wraps are made with the Tomato Basil Tortillas and aren’t the same without them.

Veggie Wraps taste great in Spinach tortillas as does that fabulous Spinach Artichoke Dip spread on a Spinach Tortilla, wrapped and toasted on the panini grill. Someone make me one – now.

The flavored tortillas work great with those pinwheels, too.

Let me know what your favorite Sandwich Wrap is. We’re always looking for new ideas to try!

Have a fantabulous weekend!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

Happy Birthday, Jillian! The mall threw an expo just for you!

Jillian is 20 today! To celebrate, we got up early, headed over to the kitchen to prep the BBQ Meatballs and load the van. After a car wash to make our van presentable, we headed over to the mall to set up for the KICKS 96/ 101.7/Hoppe Jewelers Bridal Extravaganza.

We work well as a team and it doesn’t take us long to set up. We had to be set up by 11:30 and didn’t get there until 10:30. Most everyone was already there and setting up. Of course, we prefer to keep it simple and we don’t have an elaborate display. There was an award for best decorated booth but we decided at the last expo to just go with a color them (chocolate, teal & gold) and napkins, food display pieces, a simple bouquet, our attire and even cake pops decorated in our theme colors pulled the whole booth together, I think.

Cake pop flavors: Lemon, White, Caramel Cappuccino & Chocolate

Cupcakes: Lemon Dream, Sour Cream White, Chocolatetown Special, Sour Cream Yellow, Red Velvet and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

Craig brought Autumn to hang out with us. She wants to be a part of what we’re doing no matter what it is and that’s precious to me. She’s already part of the “Rockness Monster,” as we humbly refer to ourselves,  as she is fantastic at cake pop making and already pretty good at cake decorating at the tender age of 8.

We met a lot of friendly folks and always get a kick out of brides-to-be planning their weddings. I get excited with them as they excitedly plan for the big day and try to remember to say a quick prayer over them praying they’ll have a marriage that lasts.

After packing up, we headed straight home so I could crash and Jillian could hang out with the gang before going out with Natalie & friends for her birthday.

There’s more to our birthday girl’s day but I must needs crash n burn.

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

My Thursday

We had a wedding cake consultation this evening so today was making cupcakes: Chocolatetown Special with Chocolate Buttercream, Sour Cream White with Buttercream and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. Noah was my assistant the first part of the day and after making the cream cheese icing, worked on his school. After closing, we went home, I took a power nap, then swapped Noah for Ben and went back to the kitchen to prep for the consultation. I printed out a consultation form, piped icing on the cupcakes, and worked on Cake Terms & Conditions. We’ve had Terms & Conditions for catering since the start but I haven’t had anything in print for cakes and it’s been long overdue so I’ve been researching that.

Consultations are one of the funnest parts of my job. Especially weddings. When a bride-to-be starts sharing her vision for her wedding, you get to know her very quickly in a very unique way. A wedding brings out so much of a person’s personality! I love it! Sometimes you meet a mom or future mother-in-law that’s a stick-in-the mud or a bridezilla. That wasn’t the case today.  I think it’s sweet when the mom is alongside and helping her daughter enjoy the process of planning for the big day. And this gal today is! She had a 3″ binder with divider tabs just for planning her wedding complete with pic of her and fiancée on front. She should be a bridal coordinator. Very organized.

I’m looking forward to designing this particular cake. First of all, we’re tickled that these folks chose us from the last bridal expo we participated in because they decided that our cake tasted  the best. Yay us! They were humming over their samples today, as well. This gal wants an “old,” simple reception and cake. Colors we are working with are gray, eggplant and silver. The cake itself is to be gray with eggplant ribbon around the bottom and a brooch on it. The plan is to make one with edible diamonds. The cake topper is to be a simple, silver “S.” There’s a definite Victorian flair with old-fashioned simplicity threading through her style. I don’t know if she realizes it, but this wedding could very easily go steampunk but I don’t think that’s what she wants. Ah, well, one can dream….

After the consultation, we packed up and headed home where I was greeted by meatloaf, scalloped potatoes & vegetable medley. My kids rock! (When proof-reading this I realized it almost sounded like I was greeted by the rockstar meatloaf – good thing I added the sides or I’m sure that’s what you would have thought). Right after dinner, Isaiah asked if I would give him his reading lesson. Night school? Bring it. So I reclined on the couch and he buzzed through his lesson. How many preschool teachers get to recline when giving their lessons? Ha! This evening also included my A.D.D kicking in and I shared my distraction with Lenae and Natalie as we perused websites with photos of steampunk houses, clothes and weddings.  Very cool stuff.

That’s February 16, 2012 for me.

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

Seussical the Musical Cake

Some of our favorite cakes to make, if not our very favorite, are cast party cakes for Richmond Civic Theatre. We learned a long time ago that if you can put just a bit of a person’s character, whether real character or onstage character, onto a cake, that person is SO tickled.  Whether it’s a person’s favorite color, sport, flower, whatever it is, a ninety-year-old turns into a little kid. It’s a “simple gesture” but blesses folks so we try to incorporate something that will bring that smile whenever possible.

One of our earlier attempts at trying to get as many characters from a play onto a cake was Alice in Wonderland. It was a sheet cake and, though the kids got a huge kick at seeing themselves on the cake, it was way too busy. We vowed to be more tasteful after that.

Dr. Seuss screams busy and it was a hoot getting to do a cake with so much going on.  Seussical the Musical was filled with so many sets, characters and stories and we tried to fit as much of the play on the cake without being obnoxious.

We have a pretty good Creative Team here at Fechers’ Panache. We start ’em early! And they love it!

Autumn working on Whoville

Don’t freak. It’s a dull knife used for fondant cutting, etc.

 One of our signature “extras” is hiding a message  or picture under the cake.  We forgot to take a pic before doing the cake so this is after the cake was served so excuse the chocolate crumbs.
To do this just use tissue paper or wrapping paper, glue or tape your picture or message then cover with food-grade cellophane. I also use a fine-tip sharpie to place an inconspicuous dot on the side of the board at the back so that when I decorate,  the picture or message is facing forward when served.


The tub, fish and McElligot’s Pool

 

Whoville (and the field of clover covers the bottom layer, of course)

The Thinks

The Jungle of Nool

Circus McGurkus

Horton’s Egg

JoJo and the Cat in the Hat

And my favorite Who, Lenae . :o)

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

Let’s Give it a Whirl…

Whew!

I am pretty sure I’m brain-dead. I stared at the monitor trying to think of some clever title but, alas, I am exhausted and starting to doze off as I type. We had a pretty full day, I must say. We had the Chamber of Commerce lunch order – 8 lunches, and while I was gone, another order came in for 3 more. Then a gal came in for soup. Then we got another call from CVS down the street for another lunch order. Then I had a consultation with a couple from the St. Vincent DePaul Ministry about a Mother’s Day Cheesecake fundraiser. We may be baking up to 100 cheesecakes in May! THAT is what I’m talking about. If that were to happen each day, I might just be able to pay the bills! I could tell it was fulfilling for the gang to have work to do and to be serving others up some yummy goodness that’s appreciated. It’s Wednesday so that means Lenae and Jillian worked at the dance studio. I decided to use the time to work on our upcoming newsletter while Noah worked on school. Jillian has been trying to find an at-home culinary course of study but as suspected, one must spend at least some time at a culinary school to reach the status of chef. We’ll see what College Plus might have to offer.
After a few rounds with the laundry and hanging out with my youngins, my older girls and I headed out to Tim Horton’s to take advantage of the Wi-Fi (and the coffee) to get some work done. The valley we live in is such a drag on our air card, it’s pointless to try to do anything like tutorials, I-tunes, or working on a blog when it’sssssss …..sssssssooooooo……slooooowwwwww. It may as well be dial-up but it’s better than nothing.
What the Fechers ate: Sausage Florentine Pie – sorry you missed it.

I See a Sign!

After finding out that our “sign person” is booked until the end of the year, we debated (for about 2 minutes) about whether to spend twice as much to hire a professional sign company to make our signs or go at it ourselves. We had already purchased materials to make the street sign so Natalie said she was game. I went to Officemax with our logo on my flash drive and, as our sign lady said they would, they delivered. We now have our logo printed as big as life (okay 24″x 36″) and ready to stencil onto our already primed sign. Natalie will start on that today. We also had my FIL come to the shop and move the phone lines to where we want them while sharing with Benjamin his knowledge on the subject (while snapping at him occasionally in a way that only a Grandpa can get away with – it didn’t faze Ben at all, but if (when) I do that, then I’m being mean. Not fair.) Anyhoo, the previous owner, for whatever reason, had multiple phone jacks on the “appliance” side of the shop while the counter side had a couple of lines dangling there for the security system and another that was damaged. We’re “all good” now and have our charge card machine, fax and phone ready to roll!

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:13

Today, I MUST needs stay home. Besides starting a business, it’s seasonal switchover time for 13 people and we host church on Sunday! And I just need to stay home. I don’t know how much longer I will have that opportunity!

Serving Italian to South Africa

Our friend, Elaine, and her little ones came over for dinner yesterday. Her DH was out of town so we’ll have him over another day. Elaine is from South Africa and she’s here for the year due to her husband’s job bringing them over here for a long stint. He’s been here before but for only short spells, like 6 weeks at a time. We are SO thankful he was brought over for a year so we could get to know him and his family but it seems ironic that they come from exotic South Africa to Hagerstown, IN. They have been here since the fall and their little ones, who didn’t speak a bit of English, are so funny! (They know some, now, though). The little girls play with ours and they have a grand time despite the language barrier. They have learned enough to get by and I find it absolutely hilarious to hear the younger one speak Afrikaans with a Hoosier accent! As if that would make her language understandable to us! Too cute! I have no idea what she’s saying but there’s no doubt she’s replaced the beautiful South African accent with our drab Midwestern modulation in hopes of being understood or, at least, mistaken for a local resident. Not gonna happen, sweetie!
We enjoyed fascinating conversation and learned much about her home. A political leader there was recently brutally murdered and the country is in an emotional state right now. Elaine has been told by family that they couldn’t have picked a better time to come to America. We think we have it bad here but it’s still the best country to live in (at least for now!) We’re kind of hoping that Elaine and her family end up moving here…we’re greedy, we know.
So, we served:
  • Spring Mix Greens with Avocado (Lenae with Jillian chopping up the Avocado)
  • Bruschetta (Momma made the marinade, Ben chopped the tomatoes, Jillian sliced and sautéed baguettes & assembled – love the team work)
  • Italian Bread with Garlic Butter (as in, NOT frozen garlic bread but Italian bread sliced and buttered – much better) (Lenae)
  • Lasagna Deliciousa (Momma & Benjamin with 4 y.o. reminding me just now that she stirred the egg and, yep, she said it, ricotta)
  • Tiramisu made with homemade CHOCOLATE ladyfingers. I cannot tell you how yummy this was but I will try…THIS WAS AMAZING! (Natalie)
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:13
What’s not shared is lost,
Michelle