Happy Birthday to Her Majesty the Queen! And wishing her many, many more !

Although the actual birthday of the queen is April 21, by tradition, it’s celebrated the second Saturday of June. A great time to be in the UK and see the Trooping of the Colours ceremony.

If you’re out that way tomorrow, check it out! If not, treat yourself to a little birthday cake or better yet some chocolate biscuit cake, a tea time fav of the monarch!

If you’re not sure how to make this cake . . . check out the video by Petie Reve Cafe’s own Kate Dunbar! Don’t worry, it’s way simpler than it looks if you leave off the chocolate wingdings. Although, gold stand mandatory!


  1. 8 oz softened butter
  2. 8 oz sugar
  3. 2 whole eggs, pasturized if you can find them
  4. 16 oz of McVite’s rich tea biscuits
  5. 8 oz of melted high-quality dark chocolate
  • Break up all the biscuits into bite-sized pieces, and place them in a bowl.
  • In your mixing bowl, with the softened butter in it, add your 8 oz of sugar and mix for 3 minutes.
  • If you can’t find find pasturized eggs, you use get pasturized egg substitutes like Egg Beaters, slowly add in eggs one at a time.
  • Next, turn your mixer to the slowest setting possible to add your 8 oz of melted dark chocolate.
  • Once everything is incorporated, the consistency will be very thick. Scrape your paddle down and now add all of the biscuits, slowly keep folding, and moving them around.
  • You will need a spring form pan with a parchment paper placed in the bottom. Make sure you give it a good layer of butter all around the pan so the mixture doesn’t end up sticking.
  • Put your mixture into the pan and press it gently into the form until the whole form is filled. You will then have to bang the pan on the counter, repeatedly, to release as many air pockets as you can.
  • Once that’s done, you’ll take another piece of parchment paper (wax paper or saranwrap) and place that on the top, be sure to press it down firmly and smooth out the top.
  • Refrigerate the cake for 3 to 4 hours, to set.
  • Remove parchment top. Place a large knife in hot water. Release the spring form pan’s hinge. Pick up the cake and place it on a wire grill over a cookie sheet.  Take your melted chocolate and drip it all over the top of the cake using the knife to help spread the chocolate evenly over the sides.
  • Chill for 1 hour.  And you’re ready to eat!

Need a good defense attorney? Perry Mason is always available!

Well, given it’s been a week for recommending reads, we’d be woefully remiss not to tell you that today is Eale Stanley Gardner’s death day (in 1970). Gardner  is a local boy, who’s law offices were just up the road.  Given he killed off so many people in his novels, it didn’t seem like focusing on his birthday was that important!

Gardner practiced in our local area from 1911, and at his Ventura firm from 1921 until 1933, when The Case of the Velvet Claws was published. Much of that novel (it also became a movie in 1936) was set at the historic Pierpont Inn, which was just down the road from his law office.

Gardner gave up the practice of law to devote full time to writing. In 1937 he moved to Temecula, California, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1968 he married his long-time secretary Agnes Jean Bethell (1902–2002), the “real Della Street”.

In addition to writing, Gardner donated thousands of hours to a project called “The Court of Last Resort.” With the help of many friends in the forensic, legal and investigative communities, they sought to review cases of possibly innocent criminal defendants, and  if appropriate, to reverse miscarriages of justice.

Like the modern-day Innocence Project, most of the men (and women) were convicted owing to poor original legal representation and/or the inadequate, careless or malicious actions of police, prosecutors and most especially, with the abuse or misinterpretation of medical and other forensic evidence.

The resulting 1952 book earned Gardner his only Edgar Award, in the Best Fact Crime category, and the book was a basis for short-lived TV show in 1957-58.  (The American viewing public didn’t want to really know that the justice system was flawed.)

Gardner’s most famous creation was of course, Perry Mason.  And Perry’s strangest case, was one he tried in real life. This second Perry Mason novel The Case of The Curious Bride, came out in 1934 (movie, 1935) and according to the Gardner Mystery Library (Walter J. Black, Inc.):

“The Arizona murder trial was going badly for the district attorney. He knew the accused was guilty; but because of a quirk in the law, he had no hope for a conviction. Then, one day, the district attorney called the suspect’s wife to the stand and started an unexpected line of questioning. When the judge demanded an explanation, the district attorney produced The Case of the Curious Bride by Erle Stanley Gardner. In it, he said, Perry Mason used the same questioning. The Judge withdrew to his chambers, and when he returned, he allowed the district attorney to proceed with his ingenious approach. It changed the course of the trial and led to a verdict of ‘Guilty.’ ”

Now that’s a a good lawyer!

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 8:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Local Lad makes good

Roland Frieshlad is a local man who recently translated the poetic German children’s tale (no pun intended) Haschenschule by Albert SixtusFritz Koch-Gotha into English.


Rabbit School is one of those books young children will love and remember well into adulthood.  It’s beautiful pictures by Koch-Gotha, and memorable rhymes by Sixtus,  now made accessible by Frieshlad:

Almost seven! Don’t delay! Each one’s backpack, dark or pale, Bounces o’er a bunny tail.

make this a sure to please Christmas present for 4 and ups.

The story is simple. It’s the first day of school for two young bunnies living in the deep in the woods. A beloved old schoolteacher teaches them everything a good rabbit should know, including how to avoid the dangerous red fox who lurks in the forest.

First published in 1924, the book’s been a classic in German ever since.  It’s still in print in fact.  Sweden, Italy, and Rome (yes, there’s a Latin version!), have all enjoyed this little book. But now for the first time, it’s available in English — thanks to one Ventura dad that loved it so much, he translated it for his son (in 1996) back when he was in kindergarden.

It’s the best kind of book, loved by generations!  Start a new tradition this Christmas, give a great old book, that’s new to Americans!

Available everywhere, it’s the product of Godine. HB $14.99  ISBN 1567923836

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 5:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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