Thursday, March 30, 2017

Alternative Fact – The Cake is a Lie!

Players of the first person, puzzle solving, video game “Portal” will recognize the phrase, “The cake is a lie.”  A supposedly sweet little girl motivates the player to continue on through a deadly maze, the promise of a cake and party when completed.  The recipe itself is seen on computer screens, often recited throughout the game.  The catch?  The recipe contains many inedible ingredients; if the cake is eaten, the player would die anyway.

"Alternative Fact", a term spoken by Kellyanne Elizabeth Conway (American political activist currently serving as Counselor to President Donald Trump) in January 2017.  She claims the US media developed a definition which was not necessarily the meaning that Conway intended. A politically declared "fact" that does not match reality; a fiction, a falsehood, a lie, not a fact.  In other words, a politically correct term that means "it's a lie" without being nasty sounding.

In other words, you have this seemingly intelligent, pleasant looking, woman telling you one fact, while the players (American public) are believing a lie and continue on with the game.  Or that is what the media is intending for us to believe; are they trying to get us to follow the cake?  Main problem is, people are too ready to be sheeple; to follow the shepherd without questions; without bothering to do research to figure out what is true, what is the lie. 

Anyway, I do not have the time nor patience to get into political fights, not debates, not arguments based on facts, but knock-down, drag-out fights, mostly based upon “alternative facts”!  Whether it is for or against our new President; whether it is for or against the Bears Ears National Monument; people are ready to fight, verbally and physically on social media.  I have seen family, friends, virtual strangers blast with cruel words; threaten to kill; unfriend, block and refuse to speak to each other ever again.  I, myself, have been unfriended and blocked for refusing to pick one side or the other 100%; I’m either with the “correct” crowd, or I’m an enemy.  I have even heard from several sources that I have declared whether I am pro or con on an issue.  Really?  Would be so nice if these “gossips” would have the politeness and courage to outright ask me before signing me up to their cause!  Why having me on their side is so important leaves me clueless.

Now that the venting is out of the way, let me get to the true purpose of this article, “the cake is a lie”.  Recently I found, again on social media, a recipe for a “poke cake” (poke holes in cake, pour liquid frosting over top) called “Do Nothing Cake”.  Personally I am not a fan of poke cakes; the flavor seems to be concentrated at the “hole” sites, doesn’t seem to infuse the entire cake.  Other folks love them as they are quick and convenient to make, especially when going to a social event; to each his own and I applaud that.  For a test, I made one cake according to the recipe, using all-purpose white flour and granulated white sugar.  The second cake I used coconut flour and unrefined coconut sugar; often used in gluten free cooking and baking.  If you remember one of my previous articles, I made coconut pancakes with these products and they were quite yummy!  How could I go wrong baking a cake then?

After both cakes were baked, frosted and ready to eat, Roy and I decided to taste test first, before asking others for opinions.  The “Do Nothing Cake” was moist, slight pineapple flavor in the cake; the chopped pecans were a bit overwhelming for both of us.  Now the cake made with the coconut products, oh dear; the batter had been more like a soft cookie dough. While moist the cake was very “gritty”, had a terrible mouth feel, and was simply downright awful!  Poor Roy and myself, we couldn’t get that one bite out of our mouths quick enough; and the entire 9” x 13” cake went immediately into the trash bin.  My usual guinea pigs couldn’t be put through this horrible ordeal; Roy took the first cake to his mom’s house, and she’s loving it.

Now the point of me telling you of my baking failure is to help you realize; you can’t tell the lie from the truth if you don’t investigate it yourself.  By the way, social media is for socializing, so start being nicer to each other; less stress that way.


Do Nothing Cake



2 cups all-purpose flour (had ¼ for high altitudes)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt (1/8 tsp.)
1 large can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple with juice


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
1 can (5.5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut


1 - Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 - In a large bowl, Whisk together all the batter ingredients until just combined.

3 - Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick, inserted in the middle comes out clean. Don’t over bake.

4 - While cake is still baking, prepare the frosting.

(Note on Photos:  Coconut Products on Left; Regular Products on Right)

5 - Heat the butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a small saucepan until boiling.

6 - Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

7 - Remove from heat and add in the coconut and pecans.

8 - Remove the cake from oven, and using a kabob skewer or wooden spoon handle, or some similar-sized object, begin poking holes in the cake.

 9 - You need holes so that hot frosting has plenty of room to get down and soak the cake. 

10 - Pour frosting over the hot cake, spreading it out to make sure it’s all evenly dispersed.

11 - Allow cake to cool for a bit before cutting.



For the “alternative fact” cake; used equal amounts of coconut flour and sugar in place of all-purpose flour and granulated sugar.

Add one cup of coconut milk to the coconut product cake ingredients; otherwise “batter” is crumbly.

Looks good enough to eat, but the cake is a lie!

A large rubber spatula worked better, for both cakes, than a whisk.

Heat butter, sugar and evaporated milk on medium-high heat.

Minutes baked: took 45 minutes for original cake recipe; 40 minutes for coconut products.

Processed Cake Batter vs. Coconut Product Cake Batter Before Baking.
Mary Cokenour

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eat Like a Real Local, Anywhere.

In my short lifetime (only 58, have plans to age 200), whenever I have traveled, it was always important to find local eateries to experience the food.  Why?  Basically, how would I learn about different cuisines, if all I ever ate was what I already knew about?  If I didn’t like it, seaweed salad for instance, then no loss to me if I never ate it again.  What if it was something absolutely amazing, soft shelled crab sandwich (yep, you eat the shell and all with this crab), and I missed out?  Alright, I hear, “Well if you never tried it, how could you ever miss it?”   While that might be a good point for those who are complacent, have no curiosity or spirit of adventure; it’s definitely not good enough for me. 

Think of it this way, you heard about Aunt So and So, never met her; saw photos, heard about how great she was.  Suddenly, you hear that she passed away and feel an emptiness inside; a sadness, not just for her passing, but that you missed out on meeting this wonderful person.  That’s what people should feel about life in general; don’t let it pass you by while you make excuses; or are afraid you won’t like an experience.  You never know definitely, if you hide in a cocoon indefinitely.

My initial experience with Southwestern and Mexican cuisines were, sadly, chain restaurants who supposedly offered up authentic recipes.  Imagine my surprise, moving to the Southwest, finally dining on the “real stuff”, and pondering what the chains were serving.  Even ingredients, such as chile peppers, refried beans, black beans and hominy were novelty items in the supermarkets’ “international aisle”.  That’s why, with the recipe I am giving, it contains Lima beans, not white pinto beans aka Great Northern beans; didn’t find those till I came out to Utah.  I also wanted a brighter color to break up the monotony of red and black beans mixed together in a red sauce.  Since an Amish favorite is “Barbecued Lima Beans”, I certainly thought they would be a delicious addition to my version of Southwestern Beans.  Served with roast beef, barbecued ribs or chicken; along with fluffy buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, this recipe is a perfect side dish.

Why wonder what you’re missing out on, go find out!


Southwestern Beans


2 medium onions, chopped
2 large Jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 (12 -16 oz.) package thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans
3 (16 oz.) cans butter beans aka Lima beans
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans

(Beans – drain, do not rinse)

2 (18 oz.) bottles barbecue sauce (smoked hickory flavored)


Spray 6 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer onions, Jalapenos, bacon, black pepper and garlic in bottom.


Add layers of beans separately; or mix beans together and then place inside crock pot.  Pour barbecue sauce overall; cover; set on low for 5 hours.


Makes 20 – one cup servings.


 Bonus Recipe – Baked Barbecue Chicken Leg Quarters


4 chicken leg quarters (leave skin on)
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (12 oz.) bottle brown sugar barbecue sauce


Preheat oven to 450F; line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place chicken on pan, drizzle olive oil over all; sprinkle salt and pepper over all.  Roast for one hour; remove pan, brush on half bottle of barbecue sauce over chicken.  Place back in oven for 10 minutes; repeat.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: the high temperature will melt the fat on the chicken, leaving the skin crispy, yet sealing juices into the chicken.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Moab Diner is Still a Must Do in Moab.

Moab Diner and Ice Cream Shoppe

189 South Main (Highway 191)
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone: (435)259-4006
Fax: (435) 259-0198


With Moab constantly expanding with new hotels, motels, shops and restaurants; it is a pleasure to be able to enjoy a meal at a long time establishment like the Moab Diner.  While the exterior and interior may have gotten a facelift, and a few minor changes to the menu, it is still the same for really good diner style food and fast, friendly service.

After having a horrible morning having our taxes done; we felt we needed, no, deserved, a feel good treat.  What better place than the Moab Diner?  Our server was Tasha and we adored her; warm, friendly, and truly made us feel welcomed; exactly what we needed!

The lunch special was Hot, Open Faced, Turkey Sandwich which I ordered; medium thick turkey slices which has been put on the grill and had a slight smoky flavor; over two slices of toast with mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Hubby went for the Mushroom Swiss burger with all the fixings; new item in the French fries department is skin-on which, in our opinion, makes the fries taste so much better.  We also treated ourselves to the onion rings appetizer; crispy batter surrounding intact onion slices; not that chopped up stuff you get in the frozen food section; also came with ranch dressing for dipping.

Wait, not done yet!  Oh no, we were in full tax preparation depression, so ordered one of the most decadent desserts the Moab Diner offers, Cinnamon Roll Rage.  A large, warm, cinnamon roll covered with caramelized pecans and caramel sauce; with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.  No, we did not eat any dinner that night!

Whether you want to start the day with a great breakfast; treat yourself to a good lunch or dinner after seeing the sites, hiking, climbing, biking, or river rafting; why drive all around Moab looking for a place to eat...go to the Moab Diner.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, March 5, 2017

There Are Ants on My Cake.

The story behind the "Ants on My Cake" cake is pretty simple; basically it was what do I do with a lopsided cake?  After frosting the first layer, placing the second layer on didn't come out as planned; I missed centering it, and it started to crack when trying to move it further into place.  I frosted the top and sides; decided to sprinkle a little cocoa powder on top and have ants (raisins) walking up and over this hill.  Moral to this story is a bit like when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  When life gives you a lopsided cake, pretend you meant to do it that way and decorate accordingly.

Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(aka Ants on My Cake)


Spice Cake

3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 and ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 and ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins, split in half


12 Tbsp. salted butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. raisins


Preheat oven to 350°F, spray 2 – 8” baking pans with nonstick baking spray; or lightly grease and flour pans

Sift together, into medium sized bowl, flour, spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until fluffy; slowly beat in oil.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. 

In a small bowl, stir buttermilk and vanilla together.  Into bowl with wet mixture, add flour mixture 1/3 at a time, alternating with 1/3 of buttermilk/vanilla mixture.  Mix well before adding next 1/3 combination.  Pour batter evenly between both prepared pans, sprinkle ¼ cup of raisins over batter in each pan; bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before inverting cakes onto plates.

After Baking
Cooled Cakes Ready for Frosting

While cake is cooling, prepare frosting; beat butter and cream cheese together smooth and creamy.  Mix in vanilla, powdered sugar, salt on low speed; increase speed to medium and beat until fluffy.  Spread 1/3 frosting on top of first cake layer; place second cake layer on top of first; frost with 1/3 frosting; frost sides of cakes with remaining 1/3 of frosting.  Sprinkle cocoa powder over top of cake; make a trail of “ants” with the two tablespoons of raisins.
1/3 Frosting on 1st Cake Layer
2nd Cake Layer on top of Frosted 1st

Frost top and sides

Dust with Cocoa Powder
Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When We Want Sushi, It's Bangkok House Too.

Bangkok House Too
(Sushi Bar and Asian Bistro)

Address: 59 South Main Street, #8 (Eddie McStiff's Plaza)
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone:(435) 355-0168


Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11:30am to 10pm; Closed Monday

March 2, 2017 we attended the Moab Tourism Expo; during lunch break we walked over to Bangkok House Too.  We only had one hour and we had been reassured that they could accommodate our time crunch...this was no exaggeration!  Bangkok House Too is located in Eddie McStiff's Plaza which puts it in walking distance to the Moab Visitors Center, Arts and Recreation Center, City Office, Library, Post Office.  You get the gist of it, they're in a prime location for those who don't want to drive here, there, and figure out where to have a great meal at the same time.

After being warmly greeted and seated, we ordered hot Jasmine green tea; and served a salad with ginger dressing.  Ginger dressing is a wonderful way to cleanse the palette and be ready for the flavor bursts from Sushi, and any other Asian delicacies ordered.

We ordered two Sushi rolls, Moab Rim Roll and Gotta Be Kiddin Me Roll.  Both were prepared by Sushi chef, James; and he even came to our table to see how we enjoyed it...we did!   "Moab Rim Roll" (hamachi, asparagus, avocado, scallions, masago and sesame seeds with hamachi and jalapenos on top), "Gotta Be Kiddin' Me" Roll (red snapper tempura, avocado, snowcrab topped with crabstick, shrimp and special sauce).

Moab Rim Roll

Gotta Be Kiddin Me Roll

Not done yet, we ordered two lunch specials; Edamame Fried Rice (Wok‐fried rice blended with egg, carrot, pea, edamame, scallion) with Chicken and Teriyaki Beef (served with steamed veggies, teriyaki sauce, and rice); each come with a crispy eggroll and dipping sauce.  We enjoyed it all, especially picking off each other's plates to get a taste of everything.

Edamame Fried Rice with Chicken

Teriyaki Beef

No dessert this time, simply no room; but we did make it back to the Expo with time to spare before the next speaker.

Venus Varunum, owner/operator, is a lovely woman; and she has made sure to have an exceptional staff, and serve up the best in Sushi and Asian cuisine.  Her first restaurant, Bangkok House (located south end of Moab) is being redone, and will reopen on March 9th as "168 Ramen"; an authentic Ramen Noodle House (I'm not talking about that stuff you buy off a supermarket shelf).  There's a possibility it will also offer Dim Sum, and that would certainly be exciting for us!

Mary Cokenour