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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yule Be Surprised

This is my third Daring Baker challenge and, given the previous drama in my kitchen, I was surprised how little drama accompanied the Yule Log recipe. The Yule Log recipe was chosen by the fantabulously brilliant founders of the Daring Bakers, Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice.

The Yule Log recipe was divided into three parts:

1) Decorative Mushrooms - meringue or marzipan
2) Genoise - cake
3) Buttercream Icing

I chose to make mushrooms out of marzipan. The opportunity to pretend to play with clay was too great to resist. When I was mixing the icing sugar, almond paste and corn syrup my poor blender groaned to a halt. After I chiseled out the half mixed marzipan, I kneaded it by hand. The marzipan turned out silky smooth and ready to roll. In order to make the mushrooms, I had to wait until my family was out of the house; otherwise everyone would have wanted to play with the marzipan.
The genoise was straightforward but cooked much faster than the time indicated in the recipe. It was done at 8-9 minutes. It was a bit dry as a result, but this could have been corrected with a syrup or liquor.

The last part of the three part recipe was the buttercream icing. This was the big technical challenge for me. I delayed long enough to hear of the other Daring Baker's challenges when their icing was runny or curdled.

But every Daring Baker should take a bow! A big thank you to all the adventurous and early bird Daring Bakers. Because of your experience, expertise and willingness to educate the group, my buttercream was perfect.

Smooth, silky, tasty....

That success can only be credited this great group of Daring Bakers because I had absolutely no experience with this icing. But I loved the buttercream icing and would definitely make it again. My version of the buttercream icing included squares of baking chocolate but no liquor (as this seemed to curdle many a Daring Baker's icing). I dusted the entire confection with cocoa and shared with good friends. A big thank you to all the Daring Baker's and to Lis and Ivonne, the hostesses this month.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Day

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

What's in a Name?

My husband and I spent a lot of time choosing names for our children. There are a lot of things we considered when we carefully mulled over each name.

1) the way it sounded
2) what it meant
3) name after someone?
4) don't name after someone?
5) can both sides of the family pronounce the name

But I discovered that our children have different ideas about the suitability of their names.

When it came time for the kindergarten interview, my youngest was excited. We sat and chatted with the teacher while he coloured and played. The organized teacher gave him a crown that he could decorate with his name. This was for the first few days of school so she could learn everyone's names. When it came time to write his name, he stated that it was Griff.

Not the careful well thought out name we chose, but Griff.

The teacher looked at me in confusion. I quickly cleared up the confusion by stating his real name. But this was not the end to the renaming games.

A group of my oldest son's friends came to work on a school project and bellowed at him "Jex, are you coming?"


That wasn't what his family has been calling him.

Not to be outdone, my daughter is now known to her friends as "Zoe".

I admire my children's independence and spirit. In fact, I think my husband and I should join this game.

This year we will wish people a Merry Christmas from Laurel and Hardy and their three children, Griff, Zoe and Jex.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Playing the Game

We have this little game we play when we talk long distance with our relatives. It's called one upmanship with the weather and everyone wins so it's a great game. The conversation goes something like this.

Me: What's the weather like?
Relative: Oh, it's so cold here that absolute zero is close at hand.
Me: Hahaha we're warmer and loving it....or hahahahah we're colder!
Relative: Well, hahaha we're sunnier, rainier or whatever-ier!

Either way, both of us win because when there are only two places, one place has to be warmer and one place has to be colder. One party consoles them self with better weather and the other party with more noble suffering.

It's been a fun game.


My in laws purchased a cottage on a mountaintop. It's not really a mountain top, but compared to their home in a hot dessert valley, it's a virtual Swiss Heidi hide away.

Now the conversation plays out like this:

Me: What's the weather like?
Relative: Well it's so hot that my dashboard melted.
Me: Here it's so cold that our youngest froze to the dashboard....
Relative: HA! In the mountains it's even colder and we couldn't yodel.
Me: Oh.

What do you say? I'm neither the noble sufferer nor the better weather girl.

I need a new game.