Almond cake with lemon and creme fraiche and rosemary — this recipe is courtesy of Food and Wine but the picture is the cake I made this morning for guests tonight.  It smells so good with the lemon, rosemary, polenta and almonds combined.  I am not a big fan of desserts but I am looking forward to sampling this a little bit later today.  Happy Baking.

almond cake


  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  2. 1 cup unsalted raw almonds
  3. 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 cup instant polenta
  5. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  6. 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
  7. Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  10. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  11. 3/4 cup crème fraîche


  1. 1/2 cup water
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  2. 3 tablespoons crème fraîche
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes, until they are slightly fragrant. Let the almonds cool completely, then coarsely chop them. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are finely ground but not pasty.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, polenta, baking powder, rosemary, lemon zest and salt. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, combine the eggs and sugar and beat at medium-high speed until tripled in volume, 10 minutes. With the mixer at low speed, add the crème fraîche, then drizzle in the melted butter just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients in 3 batches. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a paring knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE SYRUP In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and lemon juice and boil for 3 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Set the hot cake on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the syrup evenly over it. Let the cake cool completely. Remove the side and bottom of the pan and transfer the almond cake to a platter.
  6. MAKE THE GLAZE In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, crème fraîche and lemon juice until smooth. Spread the glaze all over the top of the cake. Let stand until the glaze sets slightly, then cut into wedges and serve.
See You at the Movies

See You at the Movies


Usually this time of year, we are looking forward to summer movies and the cool conditions of our favorite Movie Tavern. With all the rain and cooler temps, we find ourselves watching more television and Netflix movies here on Ashland so we can dash outside to mow our lawns, pick up debris, and weed our gardens between the next rain shower or storm. Recently, we finished the Mad Men series and now RM and I are on a Peaky Blinders kick thanks to a recommendation from a family friend.   I love historical epics.  Sam Neill is awesome too.  If you are from our clan, whenever any of the top picks listed below come on the television set, we stop and watch for a few minutes or more likely all the way to the end (reciting lines, laughing and crying at the same spots, and remembering when we saw it together for the first time – What year was it?  Where were we? Who were we with?) Here are 25 or so of our family favorites.  I am sure I have left a few off and will be corrected.

Top Picks –  not in order, just what comes to mind first

  1. The Shawshank Redemption – 142 minutes but so worth every minute, RMs favorite
  2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – Reese’s Pieces and 1982
  3. Schindler’s List – epic historical period drama, 7 academy awards
  4. Star Wars – 1977 and special effects, all three C’s require friends to watch these with them
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Indy and the whip
  6. Forrest Gump – Sally Fields and Tom Hanks together
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Scout and Boo
  8. Jaws – 1975, the shark and the sound track, ruined the beach experience for our girls
  9. The Sound of Music – Julie Andrews and My Favorite Things
  10. The Breakfast Club – Judd Nelson and coming of age
  11. Fargo – the wood chipper and the North Dakota accent
  12. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Chicago, Sloane, Ferris, Cameron and Edward Rooney
  13. The Matrix – visual effects
  14. Saving Private Ryan – the first 30 minutes make me weep every time
  15. Jurassic Park – raptors and C3
  16. Gladiator – we love our historical epics on Ashland
  17. The Lord of the Rings – my precious and the shire
  18. Braveheart – we are Scots so always approve of a good rebellion
  19. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – 1977 was a great year for movies and love Richard Dreyfuss. Saw him live in a play in L.A. and he was AMAZING (really short).
  20. The Green Mile – Mr. Jingles, read the six paperback novels first
  21. Gangs of New York, Godfather and Goodfellas – epic gang films made famous by Francis Ford Coppola and  Scorsese   Next up I predict is an epic movie about biker gangs.
  22. Harry Potter — it defined our girl’s childhood of reading for pure pleasure.
  23. A Knight’s Tale, Patriot and Dark Knight — common denominator is Heath Ledger
  24. Christmas Vacation – Chevy Chase and only on Thanksgiving after the feast

Worst of all Time

Dudley Do-Right, should have been named Dudley Do-Wrong — This is our running family joke —  it is the worst movie we ever saw together especially the farting horse.  We all agreed to walk out well before the end.

My personal favorite all time movie is On Golden Pond but my family can’t stand it so I can’t put it on top picks for all.  The Loons!

Did I miss some of your personal favorites? Stay dry, safe and out of the rain.  See you at the movies.

Peonies from Heaven

Peonies from Heaven


Peonies not pennies!

My grandmothers and aunties had a tradition over Memorial Day week-end to visit civilian cemeteries to honor our dead relatives who never, in many cases, served in the armed forces. While many people spend the weekend boating at a local lake or beach (mine did too), we Haucks and Hovorkas always worked in time to prepare bouquets of sweet (look out for ants) red, pink and white peonies from our gardens. As a little girl, I called them pennies and didn’t know the correct spelling of the flowering bushes until I was an adult and saw it spelled correctly in a southern novel.  We would place the peonies in plastic buckets filled with water and stow them in the trunk of our used cars and drive around black top and country roads finding the old family plots in graveyards with hollowed names like Greenwood  (in Newton, KS) and Penwell-Gabel in  (Topeka, KS).  At Greenwood, this is the place where most of the Hauck graves can be found while at Penwell-Gabel there are many Hovorkas as well as my Dad, Mom and my dear brother Ed’s gravestones.  In the town of Holton, KS there is a memorial gazebo in Rafters Park built in part as a tribute initially to my mother, Katie, but later to both my Dad and brother.  It is a quiet and serene place to take a minute to reflect on the passage of time as well as a pretty, happy place to snap a graduation or prom picture or to take a selfie.

Our girls are planning a trip to Pennsylvania and New York to find out more of the history of our family.  I am sure they will stop at a few cemeteries along the journey and hopefully there will be peonies from heaven for all our past ancestors that make up the Hauck-Horvorka-Marshall-Burns family tree.





I have a few. I know I shouldn’t regret these things because at the time this was exactly what I wanted to do.  Silly how life works that way.

  • I stopped playing the flute when I went to college and I don’t play a musical instrument to this day.
  • I didn’t learn to speak a different language than English.
  • I didn’t study abroad when I was in college.
  • I didn’t go on a trip with my Mom alone even after she became ill with the Big C.
  • I stayed at jobs I no longer enjoyed for too long a period of time before making a switch.
  • I held myself back when I should have asked for more responsibility at work.
  • I allowed my father to have a major surgery when the odds were not in his favor.
  • I worried and dieted too much even when I was the skinniest I had ever been.
  • I didn’t go to Law School but instead went to work immediately after graduating college. (Not sure it is regret but then I will never know what direction my career may have taken if I had pursued my initial dream).
  • I tried to juggle too much when I was younger and I didn’t ask for help enough.
  • I didn’t start blogging until my girls, RM and I are older. I wish I had captured more of our experiences together in writing and earlier as I am afraid I have forgotten many great moments.

From some quick googling, the six biggest regrets fell into the following domains, in descending order: education, career, romance, parenting, self-improvement, and leisure. (If you’re curious, the next six were finance, family, health, friends, spirituality, and community.) It’s a bit surprising that education was the number one regret, but the authors argue this point: “Opportunity breeds regret. Feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment are strongest where the chances for corrective reaction are clearest.”

But regret can be a good thing, yes?  When researchers asked people to score the upside of many different emotions, regret actually beat out pride. Both regret and disappointment scored much more favorably than anger, guilt, or sadness, surpassing even pride, a positive emotion— showing that individuals do see a value in regret.  Do you have a big regret?

Ms. Marshall

Ms. Marshall

C3 graduates from college with a degree in math and a teaching certification with a contract to teach high school math classes in a northeast Kansas, large comprehensive high school. She is our third and last child to graduate from college. She will be working with students who struggle with math (90% of us) and are falling behind in classes in general. A perfect match for her as C3 loves a challenge and is prepared as possible through the U KAN Teach program at the University of Kansas.  She has received great preparation for this new role through many experiences and while it will not be without considerable ups and downs for a beginning teacher this next year, she is as ready as she will ever be due to the following oppotunities:

  • 10,000 hours of Math Blaster computer games in her early years
  • Months solving puzzles, crosswords, Suduko, and math problems
  • Above average math teachers beginning in pre-K
  • A few bad math teachers that taught her what not to do..remembering it
  • A father who encouraged her to love math and challenged her to love it as much as he does
  • A high school teacher who asked her to tutor a younger student who was struggling with Algebra
  • More math tutoring jobs and the students exceeded their own expectations and often her own
  • Student teaching beginning as a freshman at KU
  • Sponsoring and coaching clubs of kids including math clubs and athletics
  • Dealing with health challenges as a pre-teen and coming out a gazelle and stronger for the adversity
  • Teaching all grades of kids and taking rigorous high level math classes at KU
  • Attending and facilitating international students at Fort Worth Sister Cities International Leadership Academy
  • Student teaching math classes at two different large urban high schools
  • Student teaching in two Title I schools with great mentor teachers
  • Traveling with her grandparents as a young girl; her grandfather and many of her ancestors were educators
  • Traveling with youth through Alternative Breaks and Fort Worth Sister Cities
  • Volunteering with youth programs
  • Facilitating Alternative Break programs for others
  • A mom who understands terms like differentiated instruction, project based learning, manipulatives and a alphabet soup of education terminology and best practices and loves to give her untested ideas
  • Sisters who challenge her to meet high expectations of character and personal responsibility as well as a little bit of humility tossed in as well.  You get tough when you are the youngest and littlest.
  • To a village of family, friends and teachers along the way..THANK YOU for caring about Squirt so much over the years.

Let’s go do this thing called graduation.  We will see you on the hill.  Rock Chalk!

Conspiracy theory behind remote control devices

Conspiracy theory behind remote control devices

A platter full of remotes for the taking, but which one?

It seems these days, everyone has a conspiracy theory.  I have one too.  I believe that remote control devices only work for a very limited number of people so that program viewing and selection is controlled in households by a secret society sort of on the same line as the New World Order (NWO).  While NWO theory postulates that secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to rule the world and replace our sovereign nation-states, remote control theory (RCT) is suggesting that only gamers and male partners have the secret elite power to select the TV programs we view in most American homes.  Why else is turning on the TV so hard?

If you go to someone’s house (in my case, my own home) and pick up the TV remote control, chances are very high; you won’t know how it works.  So why, when both technology and television programming is improving, are our interfaces so counterintuitive?  The answer is RCT.  Why else can I not figure out how to turn on my own TV? I have to call for help five out of ten times.  RM has given me step by step instructions in a less than understanding tone.  Each time the explanation seems different from the first.  I am sure he is a member of RCT with the goal to make everyone suffer through reruns of Two and A Half Men and How It’s Made.  Sometimes I can get it to work just fine.  Other times, I get a blue screen or some weird message flashes across the screen to press ESCAPE taking me back to a never-ending loop of clicking with no success.  It is harder to work a remote control than write a grant for a million dollars.

We have seven clickers lined up under the flat screen TV.  Each one has its own mission in life…to frustrate me to tears.  I only know how to turn on the TV and get to HGTV and Cooking Channels.  I have watched all the episodes of Property Brothers twice, because I love them, but also because it is the only channel I can navigate to on the big TV.

And don’t tell me to go buy a universal remote control because we tried that too. The lowly infrared beam still needs to interface with the TV, the cable box, the sound system, etc. and that comes with its own set of limitations and problems.  So while I am waiting for the modernization of the universal remote and for the RCT to run its course and get to the end game of nothing on TV but shows that have CSI in the title. I find tremendous pleasure and control by watching Netflix on my IPad.

Click on but someone else is holding the string.

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather


Stormy Weather, the song, is one of my favorites and I love, love how Lena Horne performed it.  According to Song Facts website, there are 300 published songs with a weather condition in the title.  This time of year, weather conditions are top of mind.  Last night was so scary for many of us in tornado alley but especially for our friends and family in the OKC area.  You all just can’t seem to get a break. Who gets 8 inches of rain in one day?  Not to mention the multiple tornadoes in an area that gets hit with spring storms every year.  We are hoping for clearer skies in the upcoming week but the prediction is for several more days of severe weather conditions.

So check your emergency preparation plan.  At my place of work, we call it Know the Plan.  Talk to your love ones about what you will do in the event of a storm and check out all the great new apps that help us monitor severe weather.  And download some of the 300 songs with weather themes to enjoy while you are hiding out in your safe place.  Some of my favorites are below.  Do you have a favorite that you sing when it rains?  Do you have a weather app you especially like?  Hopefully soon, we will have Blue Skies (yep, another one on the list).

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall — Bob Dylan

The Storm — Mumford and Sons

Bad Rain — Slash

Hold Back the Rain — Duran Duran

Rain — The Beatles

She was a maverick

She was a maverick


She was a maverick and she bought a red one in 1970.  My mother, Katie, is shown in front of her Maverick painted in  cherry red shellac parked in our driveway of 321 Main taken with a Polaroid by her husband and my dad on the day she drove it home brand spanking new.  Both brands long dead as well as she.  My mom died in 1995 after several years battling cancer — the bad kind.    In this picture, she was a working mother when they were few and far between.  The 1970 Maverick was not the typical run-of-the-mill compact car of its era. For back in 1970 a compact car was a small efficient car – what would later be called an economy car. However Ford gave the Maverick plenty of sporty curves and fastback styling that ensured that plenty of buyers would choose the Maverick over the boxier competition.  It spoke something to my ma.

The 1970 Maverick was a very successful car with an amazing 578,914 units produced for that model year which was a little more than double of the total production of Ford’s popular 1970 Mustang. There’s no doubt that the very affordable $1,995 base price of the Maverick was a contributing factor in its very impressive sales figures. Also helping to boost sales for the 1970 model year, the Maverick did have the advantage of a longer than normal model year since it was released a few months early in April of 1969. But the one my mother bought with her earnings as a county social worker did not provide for A/C and my memory is my brothers added an 8-track tape player and woofer and tweeters from Radio Shack to the trunk. She was a mother with big dreams beyond the family station wagon but with sense and sensibility of a Midwesterner. She bought a Ford.  And she was the best mother a little girl growing up in a small, conservative town in Kansas could hope for…she gave me dreams and a childhood of happiness.