Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hand dipped chocolates -- Recipe makes 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. of chocolates

Yesterday Sarah and I (mostly Sarah) made hand dipped chocolates -- the beginning of our Christmas preparations.  The fondant for these chocolates is a very old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe -- potato candy and I thought you might enjoy it.

Recipe:  Potato Fondant
1  small potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
4 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. icing sugar
Pinch of salt

Totally mix together -- it will seem very runny but will harden up as it cools.  Divide fondant  into 4 to 6 equal portions.

Peanut butter
Mix 1/4 cup peanut butter into one portion of the fondant
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets
Allow to cool at air temperature before dipping.

Coconut
Mix 1/2 cup shredded coconut and 1 tsp. vanilla flavouring into one portion of fondant
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets
Allow to cool to air temperture before dipping.

Peppermint Patties
Mix 1 tsp. of peppermint flavouring, or to taste, into one porion of fondant.

Chocolate
Mix 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1 tbsp. butter into one portion of fondant

Chcolate mint
Mix 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp. peppermint flavouring into one portion of fondant

Orange
Mix 2 tbsp. orange liquor into one portion of fondant

Eggnog
Mix 2 tbsp. rum and 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg into one portion of fondant

Cherry
Mix 1/4 cup chopped marachino cherries, dry by patting with paper towel,  into one portion of fondant.  Add more icing sugar if the marachino cherries make the fondant to liquid.

Melt dark chocolate (use the best quality chocolate that you can find) over water in a double boiler -- be careful not to get any water into the chocolate or any steam or chocolate will sieze.  Some microwaves have a chocolate setting.You can also use semi sweet, milk or white chocolate for an interesting look.

Dip the fondant into the chocolate with a fork and place on parchment lined trays to harden completely -- may take several hours in a warm room.  Be sure to cover the holes made by the fork with more chocolate.  Chocolates should be stored in an airtight tin in a cool room, with parchment between the layers.  Makes 2 1/2 lbs. of chocolates.

Other things to try -- candied ginger, dried fruit or fruit jellies
These are really pretty on a tray with a few of the chocolates wrapped in coloured foil paper (I used to buy this at Purdys chocolates in a package of 100).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

UFOs -- 1 becomes a FO yesterday.

Yesterday I found my box of UFOs and dug through to find an abandoned sewing project.  McCalls Pattern 3323 - a Laura Ashley designer pattern in a pink heart print flannel.  This project was begun in 1997 -- Sarah was 3 and just starting to investigate everything mommy was doing.  Sewing projects left out became a hazard and the project was put away.  After we moved to our smaller log house in 2003 there was no place to set up a sewing station and all sewing projects must be pursued at the dining room table.  You can guess how much sewing gets accomplished with that constraint.

I've taken it out twice before and done a bit of it, only to put it away at a meal time.  It is a challenging pattern with ruffles around the button placket, collar and cuffs -- as most Laura Ashley patterns have. 

Yesterday, with the collar, two sleeves with ruffled cuffs and buttons left -- I took it out after lunch.  Rabbit soup was on the wood stove for dinner and the family agreed to eat in the living room so that I could keep working on the project -- finished at 10pm.  Yes!  The pattern was a size SMALL (8-10) so I wondered if it would still fit -- I've gained a few xx lbs in the last decade.  But it fit with no adjustments.  Yeah!  Done!  Fine!  Sarah is in grade 12 now -- That's only 14 years.

Today I will tackle the curtain that sits in the UFO box -- its mate has been up since 2005, and is pretty lonely covering half a window.  Wish me success.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Frosty Fall at the Farm

We've had an amazing October weather-wise.  So many sunny afternoons, enough rain to keep the grass green, and frost every morning.  We managed to get the potatoes and carrots harvested from the garden -- with a couple extra weeks of growth, which means a better harvest.  Now all that's left is Kale and a few cabbages and turnips.  It was definitely a Cole year in the garden -- cold and wet Spring and long sunny Fall.  But most of the Cole plants (cabbage, winter radish, broccoli, kale, turnip) will keep for a while in the fridge or cold storage.  Nice.  We are actually eating 100% farm raised meals now -- that feels so good!

The first set of lambs went to the abatoir last week and to our customers yesterday.  We were happy -- they didn't have much fat and dressed out to a decent weight-- proof that our switching to whole grain - gmo-free feed is working.  Our flock seems much healthier this year.  There weren't unhealthy before but the switch in feed seems to be making them glow -- softer fleeces, brighter eyes, less problems overall. 

We have a few coloured angora kids available for sale this year -- one buckling and a doe or two.  Plus quite a few white animals that are colour carriers.  You can read about them here

And the fall litters of baby French angora bunnies are available now.  There are some ruby eyed whites and some lilacs in these litters.  I'll be keeping back blacks and fawns for this season.  In the older baby bunnies there are still some lilacs, rews, and spots.

Time to start felting for the Christmas Artisan Faires.  The garden has stretched out longer than usual. 

Musically speaking, we are practicing for a 20 minute performance of harp, mandolin, xylophone, guitar and recorder for a Christmas banquet.  The Christmas carols sound heavenly on the harp and I am being challenged and stretched in my arrangements for this event.  All the pieces are our own arrangements and there is a lot of satisfaction in that.