Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kitchen Adventures - Setting the scene and last night's excitement

Since I have become a  SAHM I find myself seeking excitement. I mean, let's face it, 5 month olds are not the peak of intellectual engagement. (More on the SAHM transition in a future post.) One of the ways I do this is in the kitchen.

But I have a few problems.

First, my family is not very, shall we say, excited about culinary adventures. They are plain chicken with rice type folk. (Shortly after we married I tried making Eggs with Hollandaise which everyone in my family refused to eat. I don't think most of them even tried - and let me tell you, I make a pretty good Hollandaise sauce so they are just WEIRD.) I really love to bake, and about half the time the kids are fully on board. (I will post about Pretzel Night which is a family favorite!) The other half I end up giving away or throwing away. (Which for a mama on a budget is physically painful.) 

Last night I tried two new recipes.

Adventure #1
I am trying different cookie recipes hoping take some premade dough with us up North for Christmas. My son, Zeke (almost 12) was helping me pick out recipes on Pinterest and I found this one for Butter Cookies. We made the "Sand Cookies" (at first my son was not certain he wanted anything to do with cookies with sand in the name, and then he told me a story about someone who really did cook with sand in Egypt or somewhere. Almost 12 year olds are full of half learned half "fill in the blank" stories which are somewhere between amusing and annoying on the "mom has a limited band width" scale.)

These were AWESOME cookies. I give them an A+ for yumminess (but an F for good for you-ness). One other thing of note is that I don't have a mixer or a hand blender so I do all by hand.) So, here is where the cookies get exciting - since I moved in I cannot find many of my extraneous kitchen items (handblender) - like my frosting tips. So I decided to try to recreate using a ziploc bag with a whole in the corner. (the smudgy one is where I dropped my phone trying to take a picture.)

This would have worked and I think I could have gotten the hang of it except:

So I just gave up because this was happening on the counters at the same time:
All that includes pork chops, mashed potatoes, and my second adventure. (And our dog Pila who thankfully was not on the counters.)

And they tasted great. The remainder of the dough is in the fridge. I will edit with how the dough did in the fridge once we have gotten actual tips to make the cookies pretty or I decide on a plan B. Kids liked these as did husband.

Adventure #2
My friend KB posted a picture on FB of her Moravian Sugar Cake, When I worked as a Baker at the Fresh Market (many many moons ago) we used to sell these and I loved them, so I wanted to try out her recipe. 
I love making dough with yeast and this recipe required a boiled potatoe as well (hence we had mashed potatoes last night b/c if you are going to boil one you might as well boil a pot full.)

Well, I made the dough per the recipe. It looked gorgeous.

And then I put it in a pan that was too small. (Ok, how often do you make sure you use exactly the right size pan? Always? Oh... oh well.)
And I made the topping. And the dough rose. And I punched it down and put topping on and put it in the oven.

The topping on a Moravian Sugar Cake largely consists of - SUGAR. So, when the dough rose and the butter/sugar mix flowed off the pan, and the chef who was upstairs playing with baby and didn't think about the fall out got back downstairs, the mixture was on the lower heating element and smoking like a champ.

The cake was done so I took it out - but the rush of fresh air into the oven and whatever other perfect combination of events meant that I caught the oven on fire for the first time in my life. (oops!) I yelled for my hubs, our oldest daughter thoughtfully took TC from his arms because he was going to come fight fire with baby, and he came down the stairs. Fire extinguisher of course not handy, but I had been thinking enough to close the oven door which greatly decreased air and my husband leaned against it locking the seal and fire died. House full of smoke. Yahdah. 

But cake came out delicious (though so far only my oldest and I have eaten any.)

Two things of note: first - because I had it in a smaller pan it was thicker than it should have been which means the dough on the bottom did not get as saturated as it should have for a traditional cake. I am ok with this because the dough itself is quiet yummy. Second, while it was hot I did poke several holes in it with a knife which allowed hot buttery sugar and cinnamon to flow into cake. I have no complaints. As is typical of my life, my results don't look like the picture in the manual.

I am ok with that! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Home Made Modge Podge

So I have a big project spanning several canvases that I am S.L.O.W.L.Y working on. The background is all collaged but I cannot afford to go out and buy tons of modge podge for the project. Pinterest has about 7,000 different pins for diy modge podge so I thought I would give it a go.

I wish I could find the original blog I found the recipe on - but I appear to have lost it.

These were the ingredients:
1.5 Cu Flour
.25 Cu Sugar
.25 Tsp Olive Oil
1 Cu Water

Mix ingredients together on the stove at low heat. From some bloggy research I did I found the oil is for sheen and spreadability. Here is the way it looked when I pulled it off the stove:

The blogs all say to find a tightly sealable container. But I also want to be able to apply it quickly and easily and to be able to shake the mixture back up (since water/flour mixtures tend to separate over time.) I chose a cheap condiment bottle. Also, I wanted my glue to have some opacity to it. I added a little bit of paint (from a sample container from Lowes) that I knew would match the room I intend to place the art in.

Here is my set up. (The can of coke is optional and not recommended.)
I used the condiment bottle to add the paste to the canvas and a thick brush to spread it around. I wanted to collage pages from the Bible (sacrilegious I know) so I went to the local thrift store and found several different bibles with different texture pages. 
Interestingly I found that thinner pages (that are more like tissue paper) didn't adhere as well. Over all the homemade paste seemed to work pretty well. Like any modge podge project I would like to go over the canvas again to seal the edges and then after all painting etc is done, use clear finishing spray to protect the whole project. 
Here is my canvas two weeks later: (My lovely assistant held the canvas for me.)
This is my lovely assistant:

Overall I give this diy effort an A. I am pleased with the outcome and will be using this on my larger project (stay tuned!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bottle Wrapping

It is typical that I find myself in the middle of several different projects and I take pictures of them but rarely sit down to blog anymore. Blogging is going to be one of my New Year's Resolutions so I guess I can start practicing.

I had seen some bottles on Pinterest that were wrapped in hemp or twine.

Like these: Wrapped Bottles

I was unable to find either twine or hemp cheaply or quickly so I decided to try wrapping mine with 4 ply yarn by Peaches and Cream. I have liked this yarn in the past for other projects because it has a more string-like texture (not so fuzzy or fluffy as traditional yarns) and comes in different variegated often muted colors. I choose this one to start:
 The first bottle I chose was an old  gin bottle. I liked the shape and had saved it for the color (which ended up being kind of moot.) I had a hard time deciding what to use to fix the yarn to the bottle. Some blogs suggest glue, but I couldn't figure out how to do that without making a mess (since I wanted to wrap it sitting on my bed watching Star Trek the Next Generation .) What I ended up using was some very heavy double sided industrial tape my husband had, but I think carpet tape or the like might work as well. I secured the ends with krazy glue.

Here is my first attempt:

I like the way this yarn wrapped. It was easy to keep in place and thick enough to pile row on row without too much difficulty. I also like the randomness of the color blocks. '
The second I tried used a variegated yarn that transitioned from beige to red to beige to brown. On the skein it looked mottled but when wrapped it became striped. (This makes sense, I just hadn't considered that the shape of the bottle and the repetition would cause a striped pattern.) I also spray painted the bottle before I wrapped it. I am still trying to decide what I think.

I feel like striped pattern might not be bad under other circumstances, but the neck of the bottle kind of looks like it is sporting an eighties wristband.