Friday, September 30, 2016

Autumn is a good time for Cinnamon




I couldn't wait for Christmas time just to make a bunch of wonderfully scented (non-edible) cinnamon ornaments.


And why should they just be for tree ornaments anyway?
Get your Fall cookie cutters out and have at it!

I've got some nice finished acorns & maple leaves to hang in the house and car =)






You'll need:



2 Cups of cinnamon (hint: get it cheaper in the Spanish aisle at your grocery store!)
2 Cups of applesauce (not chunky!) many people use unsweetened, I just grabbed the first big jar I saw.
1+1/2 Tablespoons Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 Tablespoons of Elmer's white (school) glue.
Rolling pin, cookie sheets, parchment paper (hint: Dollar Tree has parchment paper rolls for $1.00)


When I first started making these, I used a mixer.
I don't do that anymore because the last thing I want is cinnamon dispersed into the air that I'm breathing.      So these days, I use a heavy plastic spoon and mix by hand.


Mix your spice into your cinnamon to get it well blended, add to your applesauce along with the glue and stir slowly until it becomes a ball that rolls easily off the insides of the bowl without leaving any residue...


Sprinkle some cinnamon onto your counter top
 (I use a silicone mat to keep from having to chase my dough mixtures around)


 Place your dough ball onto center and pat into a flattened disc, every now and again you'll have to "flour" your surface as well as your rolling pin - with cinnamon to keep it from sticking to the pin or mat.              

Roll it out to about a quarter inch thickness and press down into dough with your cookie cutters enough to get a good clean cut.


You'll want to do any other cutter designs like the little hearts cut out of some of the gingers you see above as well as holes for hanging later.  I usually transfer my pieces over to my baking sheet that I've already lined with parchment paper before making the holes for hanging.


 The holes are simple if you use a length of plastic drinking straw shorter than a toothpick.


 Simply push down on the straw where you want the hole to be and lift.  99% of the time the dough from the hole will stay in the straw.  To remove it, poke a toothpick down into the straw and continue making your holes this way.  ( if the dough hole is cut but the dough stays on the cookie sheet, just insert the straw back in that spot and squeeze a tiny bit while lifting up )

Bake at 200 degrees f for 2 hours and cool on cooling/cookie racks.





Strawberry Meringue Treats




...Finally

There are - literally - hundreds of different recipes out here on the web, for each and every single yummy you can imagine or dream up.
When I end up buying everything I need to try one, from tools to ingredients and find that it just is not turning out the way it did for the original poster or worse, realizing they skipped or missed a step that they'd added later in the comments below -
    I get the urge to give up and move on to another.  Lately though, since I've accumulated a bunch of supplies for my kitchen endeavors, giving up has been less of an option and more of a challenge to figure it out and get it right.



This recipe is a culmination of three different attempts of a few recipes I tried for meringue.
One batch never even made it to the oven.  With each fail, came enlightenment and on my forth try when I Frankenstein'd a recipe, cooking time, cooking temp and method of my own?  Viola!
Success!!

So I share it here and hope you'll post your results if you try it =) Shown are my finished results.

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup pasteurized egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 Cup granulated sugar - set aside in it's own small bowl
1 drop gel food coloring - if color is desired (I used Americolor 114 Deep Pink)
1/4 teaspoon extract of your choice (or LorAnn flavor oil I used strawberry)

Directions:

Shake carton of egg white well and fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup to sit and become room temperature.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
If making pops, get your sticks ready and set aside.
Put your stand mixer's bowl in the fridge to chill.
When eggs are at or about room temp, preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

Attach bowl and whisk beater to mixer and pour in eggs, mixing on medium until the eggs  become "frothy"   - At which time you'll add your cream of tartar.

Mix at medium speed until it becomes even more frothy and thickens a bit.

While this is mixing, add your drop of color and flavoring into your bowl of sugar and mix thoroughly with a fork.
Start adding your sugar in small amounts, to the egg whites while still beating on medium.

Keep adding in increments until well blended and then hike your mixer up to High speed.
(Every so often, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure sugar crystals are blended in and not building up on sides of bowl)

It may take a while but keep beating at high speed until the mixture does not fall from the beater when removed and lightly tapped (and the mixture is the same consistency throughout the bowl)

Get out a nice big piping bag and large tip (I used 1M) and make your kisses with a squeeze and lift  and/or make some squiggle cookies going back and forth -



or if you are making pops...

pipe a small dollop onto parchment paper to hold the top of the stick to the paper and then go round in a circle making a "rosette" at the top end of your stick so that you've covered about an inch and a half to two inches of the stick with the center and bottom of the rosette.

~ Bake for 1 hr and 35 minutes, keep oven closed but turn it off and let it cool with the baking trays inside.  Afterwards, transfer the meringue goodies to cooling racks to air dry further.





If you've made pops, you'll want to turn them to face parchment paper to dry the backs and then add royal icing or melted chocolate to secure the pop sticks further.  (see the back of a pop below)



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Scraps become a shower curtain

Had a bunch of scrap pieces left over from pillow projects and thought about it for a while.
What did I want to do?  Another quilt? More pillows? Place mats maybe?
Or a bigger project out of my comfort zone?  Yes, that one please.
I hesitated through each step making this one project last over the course of a week.
I'm always afraid I'll mess up a bunch of beautiful fabrics by delving into something I've never done before,  It "always" looks super - D - duper in my head and almost never matches the outcome.

This one however came out really nice.  I'll be making another for sure.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Finding time for both and a new home

Work, create.
Eat, Sleep, Repeat....
If we are lucky, such is life.
We moved recently, into a new home and it took every dime and penny we had to do so.   Finding money to fund my creative side had to be put onto the back burner.
(Luckily we have a couple of those now and one is vintage and absolutely splendid!)  Look at what the basement had along one of it's walls that made me turn to Stephen and say (put an offer down) in a low whisper on the front porch out of ear shot of the realtor - you know, so as not to look TOO excited!!!


Another kitchen!  And Vintage Stove (squeeee)


The top metal portion is actually blue.  I'll need to get an oven thermometer because I don't think the temp reading is correct.

It gets a bit colder in that basement than the rest of the house in these cold months for sure!
I put on a sweater and space heater and sew until I can feel my toes and fingers go a little numb.
Well worth it to have the space though!

You know, on the "about me" page when I first started this blog I wrote what my cousin said about life.
It has a funny way of getting in the way of living.  Crazy but turns out, very much correct.

So I've struggled with letting this blog go because of my lack of upkeep and schedule now that I also work.   I think I'm keeping it and am making a personal inward pledge to take better care of posting regularly.

With that, I give you a couple of things I've dipped my chapped Winterized hands into since making my jams (which buy the way took home best in show and blue ribbons across the board at the county fair! Woo Hoo)  
Got me some fabulous bright coordinating fabrics from fellow sellers on Etsy along with some other prints from local shops and stores and had a great time making tons of new pillow slip covers, tried a basket, storage bin - fun - will be making more for sure.




I've been working on lots of little projects for my Etsy shop to try and offset some of the house costs and bills.  I've landed a part time job as well so I'm finding my groove so to speak.
And though sales may be slow, my love for creating and vision for the upcoming Spring and Summer in this new place are just gearing up.

 
Available in my Etsy Store now =)  

I'm headed to my "shop" to finish the curtain I started yesterday
I'll post if it turns out as I hope - and if not - well I'll post it anyway.






Friday, September 11, 2015

"We Be jaMMin! Muscadines at their prime and apple pie filling jam...

I've longed to can something - anything, for years now and like the cowardly lion, never mustered up the courage to do so.
      I guess I thought it to be beyond the scope of my capabilities and if at 50, I had not already mastered the art, why jump in?

Then my husband bursts through the back door, grabs me by the hand and says "you have to see this!"

Turns out the black walnut tree out back had a hitch-hiker that we'd not noticed until he pulled into the driveway from the opposite direction than he usually does...


These were purple and not green like the ones on the little bush that he and our kids would eat from every year further down the drive.  They were bursting at the peak of ripeness and for one vine, the abundance was impressive.  Wild Muscadines, who could resist?
   Pluck we did and ended up with two full quarts.
He sighed that it would be a shame not to do something wonderful with them only to watch half go to waste by aging in a bowl.

Thus I was thrust into the world of canning.
Thank you Google.
Hmmm, Muscadines, 2 quarts...





















sugar,  (5 cups) recipe called for 6 but we wanted to taste the fruit too...
















canning jars, lids and rings
















And a water bath canner & strainer

Not so intimidating after all, soo we squeezed each grape's innards into one pan and the skins into another...    One by one, took a while - VERY arduous task.

(that isn't water in with the innards, that is all juice!)

After this was completed (whew)  we put enough water in with the skins to almost cover them but not quite.   And boiled the contents of each pan, the innards for about 15 minutes (at which time we cooled it a little and completely strained out all of the pulp and liquid leaving only the seeds behind.  See the bowl with the spatula?  No seeds ;)


 While doing that, the skins cooked on for a total of about 20 to 25 minutes.


My husband stirring vigilantly...

 When tender they were cooled a bit as well and put into a blender on puree for a few pulses.



















Then we combined contents of both pots together along with the sugar and cooked down to a nice thicker consistency.
  All that lovely stuff (no picture, sorry - we wanted to get it right into the jars ;)
 went into the waiting jars to about a 1/4" from the top full.
Lids went on clean rims and then the rings (not too tight)

Into simmering water bath which was then brought to a boil, covered and left to boil for at least 10 minutes.


When the timer went off, the jars were lifted out of their bath and they were set to rest on wire cooling (cookie) racks.


All that was left to do (at about one in the morning) - were the sticky pots and utensils



And the next day?


















We had the most divine toast with our coffee!


That was quite a night!
Credit:  To learn how to even begin to can Muscadine Jam, we searched You Tube and found a great two part video with excellent step by step instructions here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdBafafqL0E


So I've since made the jam you see in the top picture (and the one just below) which is an apple pie filling jam and I myself love it HOT!  This would be awesome on pancakes, ice cream, oatmeal...
Doing the Homer drool...