Sunday, April 11, 2010


New Bern was a bustle of activity this weekend.  On Saturday, the Farmer's Market opened with more than 50 vendors serving a huge crowd of patrons.
For the first time, children's activities were available (making pottery, beaded bracelets or planting seeds in a take-home pot).  Weaving instructions were available from weaver Kay Lannoye, dressed in period costume.

No one could possibly go hungry with all the wonderful baked goods available.  

A limited number of vegetables were for sale, but plenty of crafts.  R Garden had vegetables and garden "poop" for sale (goat  manure supposedly good for growing anything without the usual manure odor).  

Tryon Palace opened its grounds free of charge for the weekend.  A sale of heritage plants and trees was a big attraction, but the beautiful flowers were also a draw for visitors.  Cheerful pansies greeted me as I began my walk towards the formal gardens.

Raised beds were filled with dainty irises and purple flowers that I didn't recognize.

The irises were lovely shades of pale blue, white and yellow.
A pink carpet of flowers enticed me through the entrance to another, more formal setting with statues.

Just as I was reveling in the glorious shades and shapes of so many lovely flowers,
my camera battery went dead.  So sad, there was much more to photograph, and I so wanted to share it all with you.  Please do visit the Palace soon and see the gardens for yourself.  And take a guided tour of the inside as well.  It is so worth it.  I could go every week, as I never tire of hearing about New Bern's early history and seeing the interior of such a lovely building.

When I got home, the Palace gardens were still on my mind, so I baked up some cupcakes and topped them with pansies from my garden.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Source:   Southern Living, March 2009 
Rating: 10 out of 10


2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla + 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or 2 tsps. vanilla)

1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 cups cake flour (I used White Lily all-purpose.)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp.  salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)

Heat oven to 350F.  Place baking cups in 24 muffin tin wells; spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer using medium speed, until creamy and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time,  and beat till yellow disappears.  Beat in flavoring. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add to wet mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into cups, filling ¾ full. 

Bake 18-22 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour). Spread with desired frosting. Yield: 24 cupcakes  Frost with your favorite frosting, or make some wonderful Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting..  And don't forget the pansy!

1. Please sift the flour before measuring.
2. Please use cake flour or White Lily all-purpose flour for best results.
3. Don't over-mix the batter and don't beat at too high a speed.
4. Don't over-bake the cupcakes.  
5. Refrigerate leftover cupcakes if using cream cheese frosting.


  1. Boy, do I ever love those kinds of markets! I just want to bask n all the possibilities. Don't you just love pansies? They have such happy faces. And cupcakes! Oh yeah, I'm on a bit of a cupcake cake, looking for the perfect vanilla cupcake. Will certainly have to give these a try. Thanks so much for posting!

  2. What a fun outing! My mother actually made these cupcakes and be warned, you cannot stop at one!
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  3. What a terrific post, Judy! From the fantastic photos to the tasty recipe, you covered it all. My weekends have been booked, but plan on heading to New Bern's Farmer's Market soon! Keep up the great work! - Wendy


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