Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teeni Weeni Mushrooms

I really, really need to get crackin on making a few more Christmas gifts, but I have mushrooms on my mind.
I was inspired to make these little fellows this morning... I hope to make a few more, perhaps a purple one...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sketchbook Challenge

One of the online artist groups I belong to is putting out an interesting challenge for others. It is the Sketchbook challenge.

I plan to participate because I think it will not only chronicle a year of my life in pictures and words. I think it will also help me stay in a creative frame of mind.

I am inviting all of you to participate as well. You don't need to be an artist to take up a pen, a crayon, some watercolors or even a simple pencil then draw something from your day. You could even glue in found objects, make a collage, doodle. Regardless it will be a creative and fun exercise.

The Blog is called The Sketchbook Challenge, you will find all the info you need there.

There will be a monthly theme, the artists there will show pages of their own blogs and share the inspirations behind the pages. They will be sharing techniques and tips.

As one of the featured artists Jill Berry states " you can spend the year learning to draw, ( I think anyone can do this) or you can not. But the year will go by anyways, might as well give it a go."

So my friends instead of posting random thoughts just to your wall post them to your journal as well and then illustrate the page.

Let's get creative !


Monday, December 6, 2010

Baking Time, and How to Custom Color Your Own Sugar Sparkles For Your Cookies.

It is time to make boxes of cookies for our friends and neighbors. So of course we made a production out of it.

We just made 3 kinds and managed to burn the first tray of Snickerdoodles. If you keep up with my blog you know I am sort of prone to burning things.

After the initial batch of torched cookies we figured out our oven and made Snickerdoodles, Spritz and the best darn Lemon Meltaways with a colored crystal glaze.

You can find the recipe of the Lemon Meltaways here

To make them festive and pretty you will do one final step of dipping them in a small bowl of colored sugar crystals, right after you dip in glaze and dab exess glaze off on the back of a fork.

To To make your own custom sugar colors

Gather together:

a bottle of white sparkling sugar, mine is Wilton's brand

Wiltons icing colors to dye the sugar.

a 1/2 -1 tsp granulated sugar

In a small ramekin pour about 1/3 cup of sugar crystals and the granulated sugar. With a fork take up the tiniest amount of icing color. You can see in the photo the small amount on the tine of the fork, start with just a drop and begin mixing. I stir with a mashing type motion until my color disperses evenly. Add more color as you see fit. With icing colors you can mix colors and create new colors. So play around a bit. My green was yellow, and blue sugars mixed. My red was a bit of burgandy and red mixed. Yellow takes more to color that other colors but always start with a little and add until you reach the color.

These cookies are so damn good you will want to make 2 batches, because your family will devour one batch right away....

Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 3, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Feast AKA year of the flaming oven.

Last year my husband and I went above and beyond to create the most amazing dinner and experience for everyone who came to spend the holiday with us. This year I decided I did not want to compete with our success so we would just keep it low key but go with some less traditional foods. Obviously we would put on a feast that would be unforgettable , just not so extravagant.

We had quite a crowd, My mom came from north eastern Oregon and stayed for 10 days. I miss her so much already, it has been years and years since I was able to spend that much quality time with her. Steve's mom, sister and her family were here as well, our house was quite full with 10 of us for 3 days. 60 meals were prepared over 3 days.. we consumed a vat of butter, a wagon load of carbs and we all need to diet now.

Everything was going well, we were making a BBQ prime rib and my famous or perhaps infamous roasted duck. Along with all sorts of fabulous sides.

About 1.5 hours before serving time I removed the duck from the oven to pour out the fat that accumulated in the bottom of the pan when I failed to grab both sections of the damn thing, I pulled out the roasting rack and that was all I had in my hands a roasting rack and a duck but no pan. The pan of drippings, mind you there was not just a scant 1/2 cup it was more like 4 cups of juice and fat just fell into the oven draining into the vent holes in the bottom. I have a gas oven so the floor of the oven is above the flames that heat it up there are long opening for heat to pass up through. All the juices went down into where the flame element is. Well at first it didn't seem so bad. I wiped up what I could see, turned on the fans, it was starting to smoke pretty bad....but nothing to worry about So I put in the Yorkshire puddings. Figuring I'd clean it after cooking.

Smoke was pouring out of the oven but we checked it and figured it would burn off and I'd just have a mess to clean later. Pretty soon it was not just annoying smoke but horrible black thick smoke, Steve opened all the windows and turned the whole house fan on to clear the air for breathing. Now it is like 37 degrees in five min from the fan. everyone is donning coats and covering up with blankets.

I opened the oven and HOLY HELL flames erupt out of it, smoke is curling through the kitchen and my daughter yelling to call the firefighters... someone said pour water on it....
NO water
NO firefighters, I can handle this just calm down people.

I poured salt a lot of it all over the flaming oven bed, pulled the Yorkshire puddings. They were a bit blackened but still edible. Thankfully I was house sitting the neighbors house, so my sister-in-law suggested we use their oven to finish the puddings, while we sorted out our own mess.

My first thought was sure I'll burn down not just my own house but theirs too... Happy Holidays! Ok we'll cook them over there....

Anyhow, since it was freezing in our house the oven cooled off quickly and in the 20 min the puddings needed to finish cooking my husband and I unscrewed the bottom plate of our oven and cleaned up all the salt, the grease, the juice from the duck and put it back together in time to cook the stuffing and whatever else we ate.

I like to make certain our holidays are unforgettable I think I managed to do it once again. We won't remember what we ate but we will all remember the flaming oven.

What will I do next year, how could I possibly top this experience?

Happy Holidays from Chef Cytel!