Vacation, all I ever wanted…

The first year we moved to Washington State I just would be in the car looking up at the lush green trees and I just kept waiting for someone to tell me that my vacation was over and that it was time to go back to Phoenix. While some may complain about the rain, I usually embrace it (though now that I am growing a home farm this summer, I am hoping for a little more sun than what I usually do). Without the rain, we wouldn’t be the Emerald city. We would be the brown sky, brown ground that I moved away from.

Since we do get so much rain, it’s almost a celebration each time the sun comes out. I often tell people who complain that if they sun was out all the time around here, number one; no one would get anything done. And number two; it wouldn’t be nearly as special as everyone treats it around here. To me the sun is just the sun but to others it seems like a beacon of hope some days.

Friday and Saturday were like that. I missed out on Friday as I was playing a little playoff hockey (and winning playoff hockey I might add). But Saturday the weather was just as nice, and the thought of getting out of the house seemed lovely. I had already made most things I wanted for my very low key Easter meal, leaving just the ham to be cooked today. The town I live in now is along the water (no my apartment isn’t anywhere near the water) and not too far of a drive down to the little beach. Now I will admit that normally when I am down by the beach we are at a local brew pub and I have never actually gone to the park that is there. Which is a shame because it was so very pretty and for a quick second I was back to feeling like I was on vacation again. Which is nice since I haven’t been on a vacation (if you don’t count the three days in Arkansas for Sam’s Club) for 7 years. Yes, you read that right, 7 years…with no vacation in site. So I guess more trips down to the beach in my town will be in order. Maybe drag the dog down there for a walk.

My father always told us growing up that you had to have the bad days in order to be able to recognize the good ones. I think the sun is like that as well. I can assure you that it was the exact opposite in Phoenix, sun all the time, and so when it did rain it was a treat (except monsoons…which aren’t so much rain as it is coating mud on everything). Strawberries are like this too. Sure you can get them year round, and I do put them in things year round. BUT my favorite way to eat strawberries is either just with some cream or in my strawberry buttercream frosting. A bunch of my readers have been making it as of late and tweeting that they have made it so it made me crave it as well. Only problem was no good strawberries yet…until yesterday! Yay! So off I went. I realize that this recipe has already been done, but it’s worth repeating, as are the good things in life.

White Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

White Cupcakes
4 ½ cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
2 TBSP baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 TBSP (2 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
7 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake or muffin tins with papers; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine milk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until pale and creamy. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add sugar in a steady stream; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture and starting and ending with the flour. Do not overbeat.

In a clean bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into flour mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg whites in two batches, being careful not to deflate the whites.

Pour batter into prepared tins, filling cups to about 1/2 inch from the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the centers comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed lightly in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely before icing or storing.

From Martha

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups (may need more or less) powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.
Add vanilla and strawberries and beat for 1 minute.
Adding 1 cup at a time, add the remaining powdered sugar. You may find that you need less than 4 cups or more than 4 cups depending on the consistancy of the frosting you are going for. I wanted mine to drip down the sides so I went with less sugar.


  1. I’m one of those who tweeted about making this frosting. This was a fantastic addition to my cake pops I made for Easter at my Gramma’s.

    I can say – this is one mighty fine frosting!

  2. Exactly, bad things make us appreciate the good things….

    Those are wonderful cupcakes.



  3. congrats on hockey wins!

    I love fresh strawberries – is there a Burgerville near you? I heard today their fresh strawberry shakes, smoothies and lemonades are buy one get one free. :)

    these cupcakes look perfect!

  4. Your father is a wise man,
    Your photos are gorgeous!

  5. I know what you mean about the sun. Living on the California coast we get sun most of the year and sometimes it feels like its bearing down on ya. The winter rains are a nice reprieve. I do miss snow, though.

    Oh, and we may grow strawberries year round here, but they don’t taste good year round. Nothing like sun-ripened strawberries in the summer. You can grow strawberries in hanging baskets, you know… :)

  6. @CW you are nuts. Coming from Michigan I am SO sick of snow. I’d be happy if I didn’t see it til Dec 25th and only for that day. :P

  7. I love that strawberry buttercream! Gorgeous and I bet delicious!

  8. PS do you think the buttercream might be too much with strawberry cake?

  9. What a delicious way to enjoy fresh strawberries! Yum!

  10. I have the opposite weather to you – mostly sunny. I feel a little bad for the tourists but I do love it when it pours with rain here. It is my time to make scones with jam and cream and enjoy a nice hot cup of tea, or make a casserole for dinner. I will be on the lookout for nice strawberries so I can try these cupcakes.

  11. These look so tasty! I made lemon cupcakes last week, and I bet this buttercream would taste amazing on those…I might need to make another batch! Did you have to add food coloring to get the frosting that color, or is that all from the berries?

  12. Wow gorgeous cupcakes! White cake is my favorite and I love the strawberry buttercream

  13. Winning playoff hockey–hurray!

    I know so many little girls who would love those cupcakes–I know they are adult-friendly, but they really would be perfect for a Strawberry Shortcake birthday theme.

  14. I loved the gorgeous cupcake photo starting off this post, and your post too, of course.
    “By the time I get to Phoenix, she’ll be risin'”…

  15. Oh how gorgeous does that buttercream frosting look? Yum!

  16. I’ve been craving strawberry frosting and cake. I think I had better make it! LOL!

    And please for my sake, visit the beach a lot. I love the beach but for me the beach is at least 4 hours away. : (

  17. Oh I hear you on Phoenix’s brown sky/brown land/brown dust/brown crunchy plant motif. My husband is from Portland and I just love going back there. It could rain for a week straight and I wouldn’t care!

  18. MMMM I could totally go for one of those cupcakes. Strawberry buttercream icing is right up my alley!

  19. I picked up some awesome strawberries at the farmers market. Went back to get another basket and they weren’t as good. May have to wait a few more weeks for better consistency…then have to make this!

  20. @Maggie, that is the color from the berries.

  21. I have to say I have made so so many buttercream frosting and this by far was the worst. It tasted great but couldn’t use it.. I threw both batches in the garbage, it looked like it had curdled.

  22. Peabody says:

    Sorry to hear that. Your berries most likely had too much acid if it looked curdled.

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