Friday, October 30, 2009

My favoriate Halloween photo

This is a old photo. In fact Robert is wearing this same Tigger costume this year and Anja is 12 now. But her cousin Brad is in the front

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grandma's party cake

So I did the cake for Grandma's birthday party (she is 90). And it was quite an ordeal. I had to bake it 2 (and nearly 3) times! the 1st time the cake cracked on the vanilla side (grandma wanted it 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 vanilla) but it still formed a rectangle so I was considering frosting it as was. but Michael decided to eat the vanilla portion from the inside out! So I went and baked ANOTHER cake. cut the top off to level it and had the top pieces in a bowl. I turned the cake out onto the cake board and went to use the restroom. When I got back Michael was trying to eat the chocolate part of the cake! I wanted to die.

I ended up using the chocolate portion of the 1st cake to patch what was gone from the 2nd cake.

But everyone was happy. i wanted to do more with the cake but ran out of time between making the apple pie toppings and getting ready for Grandma's party and everything else going on right now. I just decorated it rather simply with a butter creme frosting of course.

You can click on the picture for a larger image but the cake reads "Celebrating a life well lived"

I got this nifty little contraption that you slip your letters into and then press them into the cake so you can use the imprint as a outline for piping in your frosting. Makes neat, straight letter.

The 2nd photo is my Grandma (on the left). Doing really well for 90!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1100 apple pies

I was not able to assemble the pies because i had my grandmothers 90th birthday to go to today but I did partake in the topping assembly process. We did not have as many volunteers this year because the day they had reserved for pie making was also the same day they had a football game and the band members had to be at the game. Also the next day was a volley ball game so they had to move the pie assembly to the elementary school. But here are 2 shots of the topping making going on. The 1st one is of my DD. In the background are the 2 stand mixers I brought (I borrow my step mom's mixer for the cause).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A day at the apple orchard

The boys had a field trip to an apple orchard Monday. They really had a great time! Because of the cool weather apparently this has been a GREAT year for the apple crops. As you can see there are plenty to go around. They also got to go to the pumpkin patch and pick a pumpkin as well. The weather was cool but not to cold and it was just a really nice day for a trip to the orchard. They really enjoyed picking (and eating) the apples.

And speaking of apples this weekend is when we make all the apple pies for DD's band fundraiser. I will take pictures! last year we made something like 400 pies! The kids go out to the teachers orchard and pick the apples fresh then we spend 2 days making the pies. 1 day for making the topping than the next is assembly time. It's quite a experience. Though I will only be able to do the topping this year because of my Grandma's 90th birthday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Dead Fish Hat is done!

I finished my Dad's "Dead Fish Hat!" I'm quite happy with the results. I used Carron Simply Soft ECO (which is a very strong yarn BTW). This was my 1st pattern work. Up to this point I have been winging it and doing my own thing. This was also my 1st stranded work. My Dad is very excited to get the hat. I will take a photo of him wearing it when he receives it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So busy!

Well I have to put the tatting on the back burner for a couple weeks. My Grandma's 90th birthday is coming up and i have to make 1 bag for the gift sets I was making a while back and also I want to finish my Dad's dead fish hat so I can give it to him at the party. My Grandma also wants me to bake her cake so I went and splurged on some new cake decorating tools (yup I dabble in cake decorating as well). Got a nice set of tips and some more icing bags and couplers. Also picked up a flour nail and a word thing for writing on the cake. I've done cakes before and they turned out really nice but they were drop star designs though I do have a photo of a really cool halloween cake I made one time with a surfing skeleton on the top.

Here is a cake I made my DD for a bowling birthday party. The pins are vanilla cake and the ball is chocolate. I've got better looking cakes than this one though. psss. it's not a wood board, but wood grained contact paper on a cake board.
This is my halloween cake with surfing skeleton. (got it in the fish isle, it's a tank decoration). I actually used a toothpick to give the waves "white caps" and the blue is multi toned. I don't think I have photos of the Pooh, Tiger or Powder Puff Girls cakes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

home made caramels

So, it's that time of year again! Every year I make candy for sale and kick it off with a donation of caramels to the United Way silent auction at work. I though I would document the process incise anyone is interested. It's not hard but does take time. A great project for the evening hours when you don't have much planed anyway.

The recipe is relay simple

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup nuts -- finely chopped (optional)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 x 4.5 wax squares

1. Line a square pan, 8 x 8 x 2 with parchment paper or foil and grease the lining with butter or margarine.

2. Spread nuts in bottom of pan. *nuts are optional

3. Heat remaining ingredients to boiling in 3 quart heavy sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring frequently to 245ºF on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball that holds it's shape until pressed. Immediately spread over pecans; cool

4. When completly cooled remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares, a pizza slicer works best for this. Wrap individually in waxed paper squares.

"Betty Crocker's new Cook Book"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 79 Calories; 5g Fat (52.3% calories
from fat); trace Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 14mg
Cholesterol; 22mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0
Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : CHOCOLATE CARAMELS: Heat 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate with the sugar mixture. If you use a 8x8x2 silicone pan you do not need to line or grease the pan, caramels unmold fine. DO NOT substute for the butter or sugar!

Candy making is best done on a cool evening as it will heat up your house. Also candy is susceptible to humidity. And don't rush the process or your caramel will be soft. I have in the past when a batch came out to soft, throw it back in the pot and cook it some more. As these are stored the oils will seep out making them rather oily. They will taste fine. IF you need to store them for a long period of time, keep them in the refrigerator and just bring to room temp before eating (or they will be hard cold).

So here it is. I have added all the ingredients together (excluding nuts). and here it is in the melting stage. I like to have my fire set at about 3 on my burner (using the medium sized burners, my stove has 3 burner sizes). (you can click on any of these for a large, high quality image). Caramel takes time. And you don't really have to hover over it BUT at the beginning when it starts to boil it can easily overflow if not tended to (like in this picture). This happens to me a lot because I tend to get sidetracked. But no problem, just carry on. you may need to reduce the heat at this point till it thickens up and is out of the lava stage. Caramel seems to jump to about 200ºF fairly fast but hols there between 200ºF & 225ºF for a really long time as it cooks down.
Here it has thickened (or reduced) enough that you can walk away and just check on it occasionally and give it a quick stir. You see the bubbles are still find but thicker and the color is darkening.
At this time it's a good idea to prep your pans. I like to use silicone pans because i don't have to grease them or line them. If you use a regular pan you must line it with either foil or parchment paper that has been greased. DO NOT use wax paper. it will permanently stick to the entire batch and you cannot get it off. Seems obvious right? well I did try it and it was suck a disappointment. Just spread your nuts out on the bottom of the pan.

Now your caramel is ready. it has reached a temperature of 245ºF which is soft ball stage. You can also test this by dropping some of the hot syrup into a very cold dish of water and seeing how it forms a ball. As you see the bubbles are thick and large and the caramel is a wonderful color.Now just pour the caramel into the pans slowly and let cool. the nuts (if you have decided to use them) will float through the caramel as it sits in the pan. I like to make my caramel one day and wrap it the next day. I cut it with a pizza slicer and wrap it with squares of waxed paper about 4.5" x 4". cleanup is easy (even if you have lava). water does the trick and will dissolve even the worse messes.

this makes wonderful gifts for the holidays as well.

I will chronicle my peanut brittle recipe as it gets dryer out side.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Progress on the shamrock wreath

I have cut off the 2 clover sections because I have discovered that the shuttles fit through the finished chains in the 1st round (when using larger thread like size 10) so I don't have to work all 4 strands at the same time which means that I can do the outer rings separately after the inner rings are finished. This will also allow me to have the stitches in the outer rings facing the same direction as the inner rings. If they are worked at the same time the outer rings will be "backwards" to get the project progressing in the same direction. Also I want to add small picots on the clover leaves to help tie them in together os they are not all over the place and in a nice line. Anyway this is the center ring so far. almost done with it. There are 10 repeats total. I did manage to twist one chain but not to worried about that. It probably happes to the best of tatters. Besides, mistakes are just proof that it is hand made ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chalanging my self, new tatting project

So I'm trying a new project with new challenges. It's working up rather nicely though I did make a change and am tatting the inner 2 rounds 1st and the shuttles fit through the chains so will tatt the outer 2 rounds. This will help reduce the tangling as i go and be easier than trying to untangel each of the 4 rounds individually each time.. But i did the 1st repeat and now am over 1/2 way done with the inner rings. I am really hooked on this tatting thing! YOu can find the pattern for this wreath/doily at Tatted Shamrock Wreath