Friday, December 30, 2011

What Did Santa Bring You For the Kitchen?

Well, if I ever decide to open a bakery, I think this Christmas took the cake (< see what I did there) when it comes to getting set up for it. I got about 9 million kitchen items to get the bakery started on firm ground in 2012. I think the most impressive gift I received was this:

The Cricut Cake Machine
This little machine cuts fondant and "icing sheets", whatever those are. It is like the Cricut machine that people use for scrapbooking, but made for cakes. I can't wait to use it. Let's hope it works as well as it promises.

Jon got me cake decorating lessons from Hobby Lobby. Those start in January and are twice a week. Very exciting. Maybe I will finally learn how to make super smooth cakes with butter cream. That is something YouTube just can't seem to teach me.

My mom got me one of these from Ross. It was just so cute she couldn't pass it up.

Hopefully it will make cupcake transport easier.

Strangely enough, I got two pressure cookers, two 9" round cake pans, and two bread pans. One of the pressure cookers will have to be returned, as will the 9" cake pans. Unfortunately, the cake pans have slanted sides. That will not work for cakes that are to be stacked. You need the pans to have straight sides. I might keep one as a biscuit pan. We'll see.

So... did Santa bring you for your kitchen?

Grandma H's Kolache Recipe and Other Disappointments

As my loyal readers (all 2 of them) know, I have been trying for year to get Jon's gran to give me the family recipe for kolaches. There's been a lot of back and forth.

In comes Christmas, and our obligatory family visit. I'm sitting alone, minding my own business, when Grandma H walks up to me with the biggest smile on her face and a little, folded piece of paper in her hands. She makes me come to dining table before she explains that she is giving me something special this Christmas:


I was so excited I almost wet myself! Finally, after 6 years of begging and pleading, I finally got a copy of the recipe. Gran, all proud, smiles and moves on about her holiday party. I quickly unfold the paper and scan for a clue about what I am doing wrong all this time. Then I realize this recipe is a little...vague. What I had clutched in my hands was not a recipe, it was a list of ingredients and their measurements. No other instructions whatsoever. It was as if Santa had shit in my cereal.

I finally get a chance to corner Gran and say very gently..."Um...this recipe seems to be missing the instruction portion, Gran." She laughed and said, "All you have to do is dump this stuff in a mixer. Nothing to it!" All of you that have seem my last June 11th kolache bomb know that is NOT all there is to it. So now I'm doing the delicate dance of "what is she hiding from me?"

Ten minutes later she comes back over and says, "oh, you want to mix your wet ingredients first, then add them to the dry." I dive for a pen, "DOES ANYONE HAVE A BLOODY PEN!!!"

Thirty minutes later she wanders back towards me with a quizzical expression, "Oh you want to make sure that you don't knead the dough. Just pat it down gently or the kolaches will be tough. I think I forgot to mention that."

*me feverishly writing, and thinking, I've never seen a kolache recipe where the dough was pressed flat*
"Pressed flat, Gran?"
"Oh yes," she said. "You have to cut it with a biscuit cutter."

Now I'm beyond confused. That is TOTALLY opposite from what I learned from the Kolache Master several years ago. I sit and stew over this a Gran rejoins the party.

Later I realize, I have no idea how long to cook these for and how many I can expect to get out of a batch. Is she purposefully trying to be elusive?!

I corner Gran in the kitchen again and ask her what to bake these on and how long. She gives me a rough temperature, and says the batch will produce 4-6 dozen. That's a huge variance!

One of Jon's aunts saw me plop down in a fit of exasperation after all of this and kindly wandered over and said this: "You are never going to be able to make them the way she does, because every time you try, she will sneak behind you and put something in the bowl while you have your back turned. That's how they always come out right."

So essentially, I think I am still at square one with the kolache recipe. It's been about 6 months since my last try. I guess it's about time to try again. Perhaps I'll see if I can 1/2 the recipes I do have in order to spare my poor soul kitchen for the tempest that is kolache making.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bacon Candy

Well you asked forit: bacon, chocolate and caramel candy. I was supposed to make it last week for my #1 fan's birthday, but alas it was just too hectic of a week to get it together.

I am making up for it this weekend by making a gagillion things at once in my tiny little kitchen. It's like Thanksgiving in the home of my favorite blogger, NeNe.  Here's what's going down:

  • Burner One: Pinto Beans and Sausage
  • Burner Two: Stew 
  • Burner Three: Double Boiler of chocolate
  • Burner Four: Bacon.
  • Oven: Sugar Cookie trial batch for snowflake cookie sales.
  • Microwave: Carmel sauce.
  • The very very afraid.

We just spent a ton on groceries, despite doing much better with stacking our coupons. I am determine not to waste any food this go round. So, today starts the cooking for the week so we can pack some of the leftovers away for another time.

Right now, the bacon candy is in the fridge hardening up, but I couldn't resist breaking off a bit to show you and um...consume unmercifully. Here it is.

I wish I wouldn't have tried it, I might eat it all before I can sell it.

So, the original recipe called for peanuts, but I left them out. This baby has plenty of salty and sweet textures, and the peanuts might have over done it. Not sure really, perhaps I'll offer two varieties: one with peanuts and one without. I've decided to package them in cute little cellophane bags with bows. It will be great.

On a side note, I am not advocating the eating of raw dough, but I had a teensy taste of the sugar cookie dough and almost died in a flavor coma. It was like sugared butter. I don't know if these cookies are going to get far from my kitchen. I was going to decorate them in royal icing and sugar pearls, then wrap them in the cellophane bags and give them away as Christmas gifts to coworkers. I am going to have to rethink my plans here. The original recipe said that it make 60 cookies. I probably should have made the whole recipe instead of cutting down to two dozen. There's no way I could have eaten all 60...right?

Are you preparing any special recipes to give away as gifts for Christmas?