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231  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / New baby afghan for preggers pal on: March 15, 2008 06:09:40 AM

A good friend is pregnant with her first baby and I decided to make her a basket of goodies, with the first bone being a new afghan.  It's been awhile since I have been in the mood to make an afghan; I have about 3 or 4 started, but either got bored with the pile of flesh, felt uninspired, or lost parts of it and could not be bothered to find them again.

This one worked up fast, and I liked the pile of flesh, and it was easily portable.  It was essentially a clustered granny, with a clustered and picot edge.  I changed the edge a bit to something I felt made more sense in the sequence.  I also started with a magic ring, I eat the magic ring to start almost any "in the round" crochet - it looks so much neater, and is so much easier to control the consistency.  I liked working it a lot better than some of the ones I have done before with the dimensional animals, etc.  I also loved the yarns - though they were a bit harder to work with because of the twist.  The white is a fluffy white matte twisted with a satin thread.  The matte twist was varied in width, and tended to fluff up.  The aqua is pretty too, it actually is an aqua strand twisted with white.

232  COOKING / Dessert / Want cookie? on: March 14, 2008 03:53:32 PM
Darn Martha.  Watching her makes me sick.  Sick with the baking bug.  So I ended up making the mint sandwich cookies she made this week.  The recipe is on her website, and in her new Cookies book apparently.  Any chance to make ganache must be taken. 

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Gaaaaanaaaaaaaaaaaaache.


Then I made three batches of brownies too.  Chocolate chip, chocolate chip and nut, and chile chocolate (with chile flavoured galettes a friend brought back for me from a trip to Chicago).

Ahhhh, baking bug satisfied for another week.
233  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Deacon's Bench - so proud of my DH (img heavy) on: March 09, 2008 04:42:56 PM
DH and his work partner are residential renovators.  Occasionally a client asks for a wood worked bone as a special order.  They had one client who asked for a deacon's bench for her hallway.  This is what they made for her.  I especially am proud of the fact that they did it without a pile of flesh, just with a picture as a guide.

It is about 7 feet tall, with storage space under the seat.  It is entirely made from scratch, no premade beadboard or anything, and solid wood.  It is made from pine, and finished in English Walnut stain, with three coats of satin finish varnish (pictured with two coats here).  The seat hinge is piano hinge, so it has a very smooth motion.  They still have to add the hooks to the back, but I think it is gorgeous, and am green with envy because it is not for me.  I am completely in eat with it! 

As it is, another client of theirs saw a picture of it, and I think he wants one too now. 

Dang, I wish the house renos were done so I can start bugging him to make stuff like this for me!

234  COOKING / Dessert / If you eat lemon - you'll eat this lemon cake on: March 07, 2008 08:24:01 AM

This was one of the cakes I made for a birthday celebration from a few weeks ago.   The other was a chocolate mousse layer cake.  Everyone first went for the chocolate cake, and I ended up sending pieces of the lemon cake home with others.  I loved the lemon cake, but I made the curd very zesty and used a lemony simple syrup on the cake when layering to add more lemon flavour.  It may have been too lemony for some with that.  But I eat that zippy flavour.  Apparently so did my best friend, because she raved about that cake when we had dinner together a couple of days ago.  She kept saying how she was thinking about it and drooling at work, waiting to go home and have some more.

I'll post the whole recipe, but just the white cake itself is quite yummy, and light with a fine crumb - I made just the cake itself with 2 tbsp poppyseeds another time, and brought it to work as a snack cake - it was lovely.

Triple Lemon Layer Cake - serves 8-10

For the cake:

9 1/4 oz (2 1/3 Cups) cake flour, more for the pans

2 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp table salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

2 tbsp lightly packed, finely grated lemon zest

6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temp

1 cup whole milk, at room temp (I had 2%, so used that)

5 large egg whites, at room temp

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Put rack in centre of ove and preheat to 350F.  Butter and flour two 8x2 inch round cake pans.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.  Pulse  1/4 cup of the sugar with zest in a food processor until well combined.

Beat butter and lemon sugar with mixer on medium until light and fluffy, add the remaining sugar and bead until smooth.  Beat in 1/4 of milk until blended.  On low speed add the flour mixture alternately with milk in three batches, scraping down the sides with a spatula.  Beat just until well blended.

In another bow; beat whites with mixer until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high until stiff peaks form.  Add one quarter of the whites to the batter, and fently fold into batter.  Add the rest of whites, 1/4 at a time, gently folding to blend.

Divide batter evenly between the pans ang bake until pick inserted in centres come out clean - about 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan, on racks for 10 minutes, and carefully remove from pans and cool completely on racks.

Filling: lemon curd:

1/4 lb (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp lightly packed finely grated lemon zest

pinch of salt

6 large egg yolks

Melt the butter in a heavy medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, juice, zest, and salt.  Whisk in yolks until smooth.  Return pan to medium low heat, and cook.  Whisk constantly until mixture is thick and steaming, about 5-6 minutes.  Do not let boil.  If desired, force curd immediately through fine sieve into bowl for a smoother texture, using rubber spatula.  Let cool to room temp, whisking occasionally.  Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.


1/2 lb (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temp

2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

3 1/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

decorations (dragees, and curls of lemon zest)

Beat butter and zest with mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar in batches and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the juice and beat 1 minute.  Frosting will keep at room temp for 2 hours.

To put the cake together:

Cut each cake in half horizontally, using long serrated knife.  Place one layer onto a serving plate, cut side up.  With offset spatula, spread 1/3 of curd on the layer.  Lay another layer on top, spread with another 1/3 of lemon curd, repeat with another layer of cake and curd.  Lay fourth layer of cake on top of last layer of curd.

A few hours before serving, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, filling in any gaps (the crumb coat).  Chill a bit to firm frosting, about 1/2hour. Spread remaining frosting decoratively over top and sides of cake and decorate with dragees and lemon curls.

My notes:  I trimmed the cakes on the top - removing that slightly domed bit in the centre so I would have nicely flat layers - and so I could have a snack of cake.  It is lovely and light, with nice lemon flavour.  I made a simple syrup with a ratio of 1:1:1 water, lemon juice, sugar, and some lemon zest to add moistness to the cake.  When the solution was cooked to dissolve sugar, and cooled, I used a brust to brush it onto the layers of cake before layering the lemon curd on.  I brushed both sides of the cake layers, and on the top and sides.  Then I let it sit a bit before adding the crumb coat.  Made it more dense and moist and added a lot more lemon flavour.  This can be skipped if you want a lighter cake, but I loved it.  If I had some limoncello liquer, I would have used that instead.
235  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Can labels - can I do this??? on: March 01, 2008 01:04:25 PM
We have a friend who has an obsession with creamed corn - she loves the stuff.  For her birthday, we gave her a case of the stuff and she was thrilled (personally, I think it looks and smells like regurgitated corn, and loathe it).

Anyways, for Christmas coming up, we usually do a Secret Santa, but if anyone wants to do a gag gift or find something they really want to get someone, we are flexible.  I wanted to do either a collage with creamed corn labels, and a picture or painting of creamed corn/or doing something dimensional with fimo or plaster.  OR make her a creamed corn totebag using the labels somehow.  Can I laminate and sew them, or copy and transfer them onto canvas somehow?
236  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Does this candy exist??? on: March 01, 2008 12:57:11 PM
Has anyone ever seen alphabet candy, like those individual alphabet beads for making friendship bracelets, etc? 

We're hosting a Summer Secret Santa (Christmas in August) and I wanted to make personalized candy shotglasses with names and or greetings on them for individuals.  Otherwise I may have to use Alphabits - but I would be afraid of them being too big.

Or I will just decorate them with crushed candies and put individualized ribbons around them.
237  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Cold Touch soldering tool - anyone try it? on: February 17, 2008 07:54:11 PM
I've seen it in the local hardware stores and have been wondering if it is worthwhile to get, or if it is a piece of crud?
238  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / First new project of the New Year? on: January 02, 2008 08:22:40 AM
I'm not counting finishing off those things leftover from last year (or years before in some cases).  I have a lot of little things I started and did not finish yet, but hopefully will later.

But what was your official new project for the new year, if you started it?   Or are you burnt out from crafting overdrive for the holidays?

I just made some pine cone firestarters for our woodstove.  I found some cheapie dried and scented pinecones at the clearance area of my bookstore (it's large and it's various franchises have gift sections and anything that doesn't sell generally goes to that clearance centre at 50% or more off the last ticketed price - I have scored RAAR grr ugggh things there).  I got two big mesh bags for about a buck.  Anyways, I just did some simple ones with parafin wax, sawdust, and wicks in muffin tins.  I would have liked to have dipped them more for that glazed look, but did not have enough wax for that. 

I also have laid out what I want to do for this year for 2008 Christmas gifts.

Today I will work on some crocheted ornaments I started in the fall, since I really don't want to go out to get more wax.  It is freakin' cold out there!
239  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / What crafty type gifts did you GET? on: December 26, 2007 06:39:48 AM
I didn't get a lot of crafty goodness - baked goods from some neighbours (disappointing, I know the mom of one has done things in the past for us, painted pottery, candle holders, etc - but I guess she may not be doing as much as she's getting older - she's in her 80s now).

My best friend got me a GC to my favourite bead store.

I did get cooking stuff as I eat to cook, and it is a craft - a new saute pan, a waffle maker, a clay roaster, new glass containers, and a windowsill herb garden, so I will count those Cheesy
240  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / How did it go? Reactions to presents? on: December 25, 2007 07:40:26 PM
I have had very good reception to the beaded bookmarks and the snowflakes. 

My one neighbour dove into the gift basket and was very vocal about eating the preserves I made - he loved the beets and green tomato relish.  DH ended up giving him more beets for his family meal tonight.

SIL seemed to quite like  the sweater and bookmark I gave her.

Best friend's mom quite liked the spiral necklace I made her.

The snowflakes I made last year were very prominently displayed on several of the trees I saw - MILs, best friend's mom's, even our neighbour's across the street when we dropped off their basket this year.

MIL has all my ornaments up - even a crappy snowflake I made years ago from beads and Fimo.  She even made a nice comment under her breath that I overheard about me making such nice beadwork when she saw this years ornament (the celtic star snowflakes).  I eat my MIL Cheesy
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