October 31, 2012

of kitchen sinks & submarines

random acts button2_thumb(this is a Random Acts of Craftiness post – promoted by Erin of His & Hers fame…)
October’s Challenge was to use Odds and Ends From the Hardware Store…  Well, I shopped but couldn’t find any ends I wished to craft with; but was pretty sure I had quite a few odds to choose from in the garage.
Yup – here’s an odd:odd
“What is it?” my oldest asked.DSCN5576
It’s a little too chunky for a bracelet…DSCN5579
it does say FOOD WASTE DISPOSERsink
(He’s studying to be an engineer, so it gave me a giggle that he didn’t know what a flange is… Guess that means he couldn’t make a living as a plumber, huh?)DSCN5582
Another of the “odds” I found in the garage was this chunk of wood leftover from a headboard upcycle project I cut off months ago. (My hoarding needs an intervention… but that’s another topic…)DSCN5585
The last of the “odds” came from my sewing/craft/junk room. These glass marbles/stones have been used in the aquarium, cement stepping stones, wind chimes, candles – you name it, I tried it there.
So, I painted the little wood piece white and then glued a few stones here & there – TA - DA! My finished project:DSCN5618
Well, when looking at the back side of the flangeDSCN5598
it reminded us of thisdownload
which is one of our favorite parts of thismmsd
whenever we are hereac
I was needing something to complete the tableaux.
(In case you were wondering, the plug is holding the picture in the frame…)DSCN5625
…and one more time from the front…DSCN5622
(because I these boys forever!)

You can catch more partiers at the craft challenge link here.

October 18, 2012

a golden fruitcake (gluten free)

Picture2The ingredients for this month’s Improv Cooking Challenge are oatmeal and raisins. The challenge for me was to find a unique way to incorporate them into a recipe; because my guys eat oatmeal (raw, rolled oats) with raisins for breakfast day!DSCN5118
I did make a gluten-free oatmeal raisin skillet cookie. (We topped it with yogurt and kiwi and strawberries and papaya and pear…) It was quite delicious, but perhaps a bit mundane. (You know how our Improv Leader Kristen tells us to push the envelope…)  Smile with tongue outPicture3
So back to the drawing board Google Pinterest recipe books I went. As I was thumbing through my collection, I kept getting sidetracked by Christmas recipes. I even found myself looking at the (shudder) fruitcake recipes.
I know my guys. And I know my guys’ opinions on most things. I’ve heard their quite critical remarks on fruitcake. My yearly quote of, “not all fruitcakes taste like this” usually fell upon four pairs of deaf ears.
Thirty years ago I baked the famous “GOLDEN FRUITCAKE.” I remember it well because it was the first time I used alcohol! Pretty sure the recipe was a California Golden Raisins advertisement I tore out of my Good Housekeeping magazine. (I was happy to find a picture/recipe online, ‘cause I hunted & couldn’t find mine…)ad
So, this is what my fruitcake looks like:DSCN5398
and here is the recipe:recipe
If you wish to follow my process, read on…
The evening before making the cake, I prepared my dried fruit.  I chopped all but the raisins to make them somewhat uniform size. I put them in a ziploc with 1/2 cup apricot brandy to soak overnight.fruit
In the morning I stirred in the nuts/seeds.nuts
I sifted the flours, gum & salt into my large bowl.
I took the cup cooked steel-cut oats (cooled) and whirled it in the food processor. After it was nice and smooth I added  the honey and coconut oil. (That mixture right there was soooooooooo delicious – I’m going to try that as a base for other cakes!) Then I added the six yolks and mixed until smooth.
Gently stir together this liquidy mixture with the fruits & nuts. Then gradually add the dry ingredients.DSCN5371
(The next step you are not going to believe – so I have photos to document!)
<<Time out for my TV addiction: I’m totally in love with Downton Abbey and it’s characters! (Well, except for Sarah O’Brian & Thomas – jerks!) I so enjoy watching Mrs. Patmore and Daisy in the kitchen, intrigued by their methods and ingredients… >>Picture4
I determined there were beaten egg whites and cakes that utilize them before there was electricity. When I Google-d “beating egg whites by hand” the general consensus was don’t even attempt it unless you have a copper bowl. I have a stainless bowl and French whisk. Yet, I succeeded to attain a nice peak, as my pictures (& sore shoulders & forearms) will attest:whip
I have a question: When it says “gently fold whites into batter” what are they talking about? I have this lighter than air emulsion that I’m to incorporate into roughly six pounds of flours, fruit, nuts & eggs? (Every time I spooned over a little apricot I could hear that lovely air sigh as it escaped the bonds of egg protein.)DSCN5372
I spooned the completed batter into my tube pan and a silicone bread pan. DSCN5373
Baked it low & slow -- 275° for 2 hours (loaf) and a half (for the tube pan). Agonizing to smell that all morning!bake
Cooled them
Sliced into the loaf because I couldn’t stand it anymore for research purposes and to take pictures.cade
The fruitcake from the tube pan is huddled in the refrigerator under a wrap of cheesecloth doused in that apricot brandy. The mistreatment will continue until Christmas.DSCN5387

*Update: I revisited the brandy-soaked fruitcake here. The taste and texture exceeded my expectations!

October 15, 2012

those who serve


The Sunday lesson for my kindergarten class this week was Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.  Such an incredible example He set for us! Nobody performed the customary foot bathing as the disciples entered from the dusty street for this last meal with their Savior.  There were no volunteers to even provide the water & towel so each man could even cleanse his own feet. (If they were like my sons they were probably nudging each other saying, “You do it.” “No, you do it.” “I’m not your servant. I’m not gonna touch your smelly feet!”)

Jesus did not announce His intention. There were no banners unfurled that stated: Look at Me. I’m going to serve! After the meal He simply & quietly removed His long outer garment and took up a towel & basin to carry out the duty of a slave.

The lesson here is humility and service shown in the life of a leader.  I know some very strong men who would not think twice about stooping so low…serve

… and I know a few men who would disdain picking up a towel or basin; even for the ones they profess to love.

I don’t know how much my young class will retain of the story & its meaning; but they fought over the “Jesus costume” and wooden bowl & towel. (One boy was complaining that so&so wouldn’t sit down and take off his shoes – he was running around the room trying to chase him down…)

I baked some cookies to remind them of the story.feets

I made little “towels” from some scrap fabric.towls

The envelopes were velum cut to 8” squares; and I used mailing labels for sealing them shut.envs

I took my grandmother’s old wooden fruit bowl for my basin & used a plain ol’ tea towel to illustrate my point.