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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Cakes Galore – and Alpacas

I have quite a few events coming up to bake for, and I’ve started by baking a number of cakes for a tasting. Today I put together a simple marble, chocolate fudge, and vanilla buttermilk cakes. The vanilla buttermilk cake recipe comes from a cookbook I’ve mentioned before on this blog, “Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes.” It is so very tasty – the buttermilk adds such a nice little extra flavor, as well as tons of moisture.
Also coming up is a fundraising banquet at church for the team of students and adults heading on a missions trip this summer to Lima, Peru. I was asked to provide the desserts, and was happy to oblige. I was playing with some ideas for sweets when I came across this Alpaca-shaped cookie cutter online. I have since decided to make some other things and won’t be using the cutter for the banquet, but I had the extra piece of cake that I had leveled off, and felt like testing it out. Yep. It turns out that it cuts things in the shape of an alpaca. Genius.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Kieler & Kohler

This weekend Justin and I had made plans to be at different sides of the state. He and his dad and an opportunity to play The Straits Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, and I went to visit Kurt, Angie & Katie in Keiler. Our weekends could not have been more opposite! Though cold and windy, Justin was excited to have gotten a chance to play a PGA Championship course. Scores and stories will surely be re-shared the next time they watch Tiger play a round there!
And at the other corner of Wisconsin, I was passing time taking photos of lambs, petting downy-soft new chicks, visiting with great friends, and working at making their one-year-old daughter smile and laugh (and was successful most of the time!). And who knew that clothes pins are the bees knees of children’s toys (or snacks)?! And cameras. Cameras are evidently fascinating to one-year-olds. Especially the lens – it calls out to Katie to be touched! It was a fun, relaxed time, even if it did involved getting creamed at Mexican Train Dominoes by a ruthless Harris! And now we are both home, glad to be done with driving and out of the rain and thunderstorms.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Wife of a Geek

Justin has been involved in an online software competition for the last couple of months, and has qualified for a trip to Las Vegas. We’ve gone to this “conference” for the past two years, and we’re thrilled to be going again soon. However, to try to “get to know” the competitors a bit better, TopCoder has asked each of them to submit a video. Not really anything specific required, just something personal and TopCoder- or competition-related. We wanted to try to make it somewhat silly, but we couldn’t figure out how filming Norm attempting to climb a tree was computer-related. Rather, I got a new brand of fondant icing I have been wanting to try, and decided to make TopCoder and TCO cupcakes. Then we will film Justin eating one. This Satin Ice Fondant was very easy to work with, but alas, it still tastes a bit like plastic. I added some vanilla and butter extract, but that just made it taste like vanilla butter gum. So cute? Of course. Tasty? Nothing to rave about, but not half bad. Definitely better than Wilton brand (noticing a theme here…). I only covered these few in fondant – the rest I just stuck with the cream cheese frosting! And sprinkles – lots of sprinkles!

Can you believe this photo came from my camera – Justin thought it was something I found online!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

I’ve got the Whole World…

In celebration of both Earth Day and my Aunt Ruth’s birthday, she requested cake pops to take to her office. These came out even better than expected. I also tried some new candy melts, Merkens brand from Confectionery House (which also sells ridiculously cool cupcake wrappers). In addition to the candy coating; I also bought paramount crystals which help thin out the melted candy, making it easier to dip the cake balls. This combination (the new melts and crystals) seemed to be easier to work with than my previous endeavors with Wilton brand melts and shortening, though there wasn’t much difference in the end result.
So whether it is your birthday, or you are just trying not to destroy the earth, Enjoy the day!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Women’s Retreat (day)

This whole weekend (Friday – Sunday) is our church’s Women’s Retreat. We had some plans already set for this weekend, so rather than going for the whole time, and since it was relatively nearby, I decided to just drive out for the day. It was a gorgeous warm, sunny day, and a nice time to connect with a bunch of other gals from our church, be silly, have some quiet time, and do some cooking. The theme for the weekend was “Finding Your True Beauty.” And I was glad to have my camera along to capture some moments that I found beautiful.
In the afternoon there were a number of workshops that the women could choose from to fill an hour, one of which I led. I shared a number of fun and easy appetizer and dessert recipes and ideas, and made sure the women in my little group (trapped in the sweltering hot kitchen) got involved and got their hands dirty. Here is Tammi David putting together some Roasted Garlic and Cambazola Cheese Triangles. She wanted me to take a picture so she could prove to her husband that she helped cook! She also helped with the dishes, which is always a way to endear yourself to me! 🙂
I was glad for the chance to be able to spend the day this way.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Toot the Tax Bird

In a round about sort of way, I happened upon this fun, free site on the internet. After downloading and printing out the design, I spent the next 10 minutes cutting, folding and gluing my little birdie together. Seriously – pretty funny. I would suggest printing it out on cardstock paper if you have it, but the regular old paper already loaded in the printer works pretty good as well. I may soon have a flock of these little guys – perfect for wasting time and eliciting smiles.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

French Toast

The second loaf of challah baked up beautifully. While still far from perfect, it had a great crust and delicious and moist crumb. We shared about half of it with family, but then hoarded the rest away in order to make french toast with it this morning.

The basis for this recipe for french toast is the first recipe I ever wrote down while watching Thirty Minute Meals (caution – link has sound) with Rachel Ray – almost 6 years ago (before she took over the world) – and it is the bomb. But I’ve never used challah bread for french toast before today, and now it is the atom bomb of french toast. Serve with real maple syrup, preferably made by a friend‘s family, and you might as well wipe yourself off the face of the map. Crazy. Good.

French Toast
(adapted from Thirty Minute Meals)

2 eggs
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
6-8 slices thick (at least 1″ thick) french or challah bread
Butter for pan

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, milk, and nutmeg. Start soaking several slices of bread in the mixture, flip over after a few minutes to soak other side. Heat large non-stick skillet/griddle to medium heat. When the pan is heated, melt a bit of butter in it, then add several pieces of soaked bread to it – only as many as can fit comfortably in the pan, don’t crowd it. While these are cooking, start soaking remaining slices in the egg mixture. Depending on your stovetop’s heat output, each slice should be flipped over after about 3 minutes, when the cooked side is golden brown. The other side usually takes a little bit less time, maybe about 2 minutes. Warning – I’ve never actually timed how long this takes. Maybe it was 4 minutes and 3 minutes? Just keep an eye on it. If the toast darkens after only a minute, turn down your heat a bit, or else you will have beautiful-looking french toast, but it will be nasty and gooey on the inside – blech. I like to preheat my oven to 300 degrees, set a wire rack on a cookie sheet, and have it ready in the warmed oven in order to put my finished slices of french toast on while I cook the whole batch of toast. The finished slices don’t get soggy or cold, and everything can be served together at the same time. And if, by chance, the center of the french toast didn’t get completely done in the pan, the heat from the oven will finish the cooking process.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2009 in Uncategorized