Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Daring Orange Tian

This month's challenge to make an Orange Tian perplexed me more than most challenges have so far.  We were allowed to make the Tian of any citrus flavour we wanted......and I would have easily been happy with Blood Oranges if the state of them had not been so poor in the grocery store at the moment.  Had it been last month's would have been perfect timing.....but here at least, they seen to be at the end of their season.  My next thought was to make a lemon one......which I think would make a lovely marmalade, but as for topping the dessert with that much fresh lemon was sounding like it was going to be too tart for me....which is saying something.  So in the end I opted to go with plain old navel oranges, and I think the flavour will be perfect if not very adventurous.  Essentially the recipe looks like a fruit topped cheese cake, however the 'cheese cake' layer is a layer of stabilized (with a bit of gelatin) flavoured whipped cream followed by a bottom of sweet pastry crust.  Because I chose to make my dessert in a 9 1/2" spring form pan, I decided to double the amount of the cream filling so it would produce a thick enough layer in the dessert.  There were quite a few little steps in the recipe....none of which were terribly difficult....just a bit time consuming.
Should you like to give this recipe a go....instructions are below.  Just be careful when making the caramel to add the orange juice very slowly at first (like a tablespoon at a time) because the high temperature of the caramel will make it sputter.  Once the overall temperature has dropped from adding the juice you can add it at a faster rate.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.
What did I think of the Tian?? I really liked the opportunity to make Marmalade that this challenge offered.  I was happy with the marmalade, the pastry crust although I made the dough a little too crumbly as I was worrying about adding too much water, and I really liked the creamy filling.  I did not care much for the caramel  sauce as it had a very strong marmalade flavour.  Just a bit too bitter for me.   I found the instructions as to what to do with the caramel a little too unclear.  I assumed I was to pour half of the thin caramel sauce over the orange segments once they were layered in the pan.  Perhaps my interpretation has too much caramel in it??   In the end this caramel did not firm up while in the freezer and made a bit of a mess when I flopped it out on to the serving dish.  Funny enough the caramel in this dish tasted very much like one from a flan or creme caramel that I love......but I found it just a bit too brash form this recipe.  If I was to repeat this recipe, I might try it without the caramel or more likely with strawberries or kiwis with a small amount of chocolate sauce rather than the caramel.
Orange Tian
For the Pate Sablee:
Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.
Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.
For the Marmalade:
Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked
Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.
Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.
Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).
Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.
In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
For the Orange Segments:
For this step you will need 8 oranges.
Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.
[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]
For the Caramel:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams
Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.
[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]
For the Whipped Cream:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon
In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]
Assembling the Dessert:
Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.
Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.
Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.
Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.
Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.
Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.
Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.
Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.
Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Air Buns With Dinner

Cool spring weather lends itself well to nice warm bowls of soup........and what better to go with.....than some nice homemade buns. I remember someone giving my gramma the recipe for some beautiful soft buns when I was little.  They were so light and soft...they were called air buns.  Rather than go searching for the recipe, I did a quick little online search and came up with a recipe to try for air buns. I found quite a few recipes and they all seemed to be pretty much the same.  I liked this one since the quantity was small (16 buns) and it was sized properly for using the bread machine.  The buns turned out as I remembered them and I would most definitely make them again.  I should have taken a picture straight out of the oven, but I was not quick enough and now the last one is a sandwich for my lunch.  Last night it was Hamburger Soup ( with the addition of 1/4 head of cabbage....because I like that addition) and buns for dinner.  Not fancy, but delicious none the less.
Air Buns (For the bread Machine)
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup lard or shortening, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
Add all ingredients into bread machine pan in the order listed.  Choose dough cycle.  Remove dough, punch down and form into dinner rolls.  15 fit nicely in an oblong pan. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour then bake at 350F for 20 to 30 minutes until tops are golden and bottoms sound hollow when knocked.  If you'd like to see the instructions for making these by hand rather than using the bread machine....look here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

99 Things I might Have Done??

It's a damp puddly day here.  There are still tiny pockets of winter left here and there....but mostly the trend is warming and raining now and again.  The perfect kind of day to relax with a movie and bit of knitting......hmm I do have a little project that needs some finishing off.  So I'll find my cozy sweater (it's still a bit coolish out) and leave you with this little Meme I spotted from over at Merry With Children. Ginger has already curled up for a relaxing afternoon.  Never having done one of these goes.....

99 Things Meme

Bold: Indicates the things that I've already done
Italics: Indicates the things that I'd like to do
Plain Font: Indicates the things that I haven't done and don't want to do

  1. Started your own blog.
  2. Slept under the stars.
  3. Played in a band. (briefly)
  4. Visited Hawaii. 
  5. Watched a meteor shower.
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity. (I'm not broke yet so I guess I can afford it)
  7. Been to Disneyland/world. (I've been to both and we're planning to back to to DW this fall to take Ike)
  8. Climbed a mountain. 
  9. Held a praying mantis. 
  10. Sang a solo. (Fortunately not since I was a kid in a Christmas Concert.......and twinkle twinkle to Ike at bedtime....if that counts)
  11. Bungee jumped. 
  12. Visited Paris. 
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (love lightning storms....but never been at sea to watch one)
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.  (lots of things.) 
  15. Adopted a child. 
  16. Had food poisoning. 
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
  18. Grown your own vegetables.
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. 
  20. Slept on an overnight train. 
  21. Had a pillow fight. 
  22. Hitch hiked.
  23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill.  (not that I can recall)
  24. Built a snow fort. 
  25. Held a lamb. (Softest thing ever.......I want one now!) 
  26. Gone skinny dipping. 
  27. Run a marathon. 
  28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. 
  29. Seen a total eclipse. 
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. 
  31. Hit a home run.  
  32. Been on a cruise. (Have only been on day cruises....if that counts)
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. 
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. 
  35. Seen an Amish community.
  36. Taught yourself a new language.(But probably only enough to get myself in trouble)
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (So far so good)
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. 
  39. Gone rock climbing. 
  40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person. 
  41. Sung Karaoke. (Badly......very , very badly)
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (We were lucky enough to also catch some less frequently erupting ones as well)
  43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.  (When I'm in a big city I'm far more likely to give a street person a meal than money)
  44. Visited Africa. 
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. 
  46. Been transported in an ambulance.  (Air and land)
  47. Had your portrait painted. 
  48. Gone deep sea fishing. (been deep sea fishing but just watched)
  49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. 
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. (never scuba...but loved snorkeling)
  52. Kissed in the rain. 
  53. Played in the mud. 
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater. 
  55. Been in a movie. 
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China. 
  57. Started a business. 
  58. Taken a martial arts class 
  59. Visited Russia. 
  60. Served at a soup kitchen. 
  61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.( Over the years I'm sure I've bought more than I ever sold)
  62. Gone whale watching. (Seen whales while out on the water a few times....but never actually went on a paid outing)
  63. Gotten flowers for no reason.  (I had a boyfriend who bought me flowers every Friday because his father buys flowers for his mother every Friday to this very day....isn't that nice?)
  64. Donated blood. 
  65. Gone sky diving. (neh) 
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. 
  67. Bounced a check.
  68. Flown in a helicopter. 
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. 
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. 
  71. Eaten Caviar. 
  72. Pieced a quilt. 
  73. Stood in Times Square. 
  74. Toured the Everglades. 
  75. Been fired from a job. (twice now....both times on cut backs...not for showing up to work drunk or anything exciting like that)
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. 
  77. Broken a bone. 
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (Speeding........well it seemed fast to me)
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. 
  80. Published a book. 
  81. Visited the Vatican. 
  82. Bought a brand new car. 
  83. Walked in Jerusalem. 
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper. 
  85. Read the entire Bible. 
  86. Visited the White House. 
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (only a fish if that counts)
  88. Had chickenpox. 
  89. Saved someones life. 
  90. Sat on a jury. 
  91. Met someone famous. (met Prince Phillip for a Duke of Edinburgh award)
  92. Joined a book club.
  93. Lost a loved one.
  94. Had a baby. 
  95. Seen the Alamo in person. 
  96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. 
  97. Been involved in a law suit. 
  98. Owned a cell phone. 
  99. Been stung by a bee.
Copy the list over to your own blog and change the answers to suit you:)  Have a great day!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ike's Little Brewery Experiment- Day One

The Gingerbeer Factory
Before spring break started, I had noticed a recipe over at Meet me at Mike's for making homemade gingerbeer.  I thought that it might make a nice and easy little experiment for Ike to do over the holiday.  Since we made our impromptu trip to Victoria that little experiment was put on hold.  Well this morning we remembered and we started our little brewery to make some of Ike's Hard Gingerbeer.  I think the actual alcohol content will be extremely negligible(enough so that kids can drink it too) but we can measure that in a few weeks when it's ready.  The whole process takes 3 weeks from start to finish, and we (well I am anyway) are excited to see the end result.  If we at all like the taste of the finished product, I did find another recipe  that I am also curious to try using fresh ginger.  Then we will have a basis for comparison.  All you need is a 1L (4 cup) container (mine is much bigger since it is what was handy for me), powdered ginger about (1/2 cup), sugar, yeast, and water.  Have a look at the recipe over at Meet me at Mike's if you'd like to try it as well.  If you'd like to try a version using lemon and fresh ginger, have a look at this one.  Very little is required for effort each day so it's just a perfect project for Ike to look after.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day:)

Now that spring break is over.....a week isn't very long now is it???.....we are back into our routine.  I've been trying to finish up some things.....We finished off the other half of a pail of salted Naval Beef for an easy meal of Jigg's Dinner (which coincidentaly is a traditional St. Patrick's Day meal on the east coast) , and I've been working on a little crochet project and a bit of a baking experiment as well.  Note....if you want to have a go at making a Jigg's must use salted beef, not corned beef or it won't be quite right.  At All Recipes they have modified the recipe and substituted corned beef  (for some reason) which would not require the soaking over night. 
So here is my end result of a little spring coaster swap I've been working on.  The pattern is available for free on Ravelry and, it turns out to be a truncated version of this pot holder pattern so I was familiar with it.  It was super easy and a quick make!
I've also been working on a recipe for a sweet bread with apricots, currants, and sultanas that I had at Cobs Bakery while down in Victoria. Cobs is a branch of the Australia and New Zealand's Baker's Delight.  My first try had nowhere near enough fruit in it so today will be attempt #2....I'll let you know how it goes.  Batch #1 was tasty enough, although I think I will add an additional rise to make the crumb a bit more fine, and triple the amount of fruit in it.  Well, I'm off to do some more baking....What are you up to today??

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Lucky Ferry Ride

Spring break was promising to be a bit dull for Ike, so after a hasty last minute tidy and a very rushed job packing....we were off......on a little Victoria.  Ike had not been back to  Vancouver Island in four years, but he still remembered his last Ferry ride there.  It had been a spectacularly lucky and unlucky ride as a pod of killer whales had followed along side the ferry and we got to watch them for a good five minutes or more.  That was quite lucky, now wasn't it?  The unlucky bit was that the moment we stepped out onto the deck DH's brand new glasses were blown off his face and straight into the ocean.  We were very fortunate on our ferry ride this week as you can see from the photo that we were the last car let onto the ferry......well actually the second last because they had us move over to the side and were able to let even one more car in after us.
Ike had a great time on the drive....we listened to two Harry Potter books and it was very amusing to see how drawn into the story he got as he mimed the actions to the drama in the back seat.  It's nice to know that kids still enjoy books these days!
We had a nice visit with family and Ike was entertained by trips to the Bug Zoo, the beach, the playground, and China Town's Fan Tan Alley.  I always like to take some time in China Town.  Although it is nowhere near as large as Toronto's China Town, it is Canada's Oldest China Town, and Fan Tan Alley is really quite nifty!  I was equally entertained with a trip to my favourite tea shop, and to several thrift shops where I found some beautiful things.
I'm now really looking forward to our summer trip in the camper van as we will be heading down this way again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quick Daring Cooks Challenge

Ike and I are still on the road and this post is scheduled to post we'll hope for the best and post it manually if need be on our return.  Thankfully his months Daring Cooks Challenge turned out to be a fairly quick one as I had already prepared and frozen chicken stock which was one of the necessary components.  And also to our great fortune turned out to be something everyone here likes....what's not to like I guess?  I tracked down some Arborio rice for the risotto which I had not had good luck with in the past....but this time all turned out well and the meal was well received.  I most definitely make it again. This time I made 1/2 of the recipe indicated below, and I used shrimp, red peppers, asparagus, red onions, white wine and Parmesan cheese to flavour my risotto.  Next time on Ike's request....we'll leave out the red peppers:)
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
It's really super easy and you don't really need to make your our chicken stock, a good store bought one will be just as good, at least according to the tasting panel at America's Test Kitchens!  While a little attention is required, it is dead easy to prepare perfectly:)

Risotto Base
olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g
Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cross Stitch Biscornu

I finally got the cross stitch project I mentioned in a previous post finished and in the mail.  Just in the nick of time as Ike and I decided that we needed to take a little road trip.  March bread was threatening to be a little dull for poor little Ike so we've decided to pack up the mini and take a little trip to Victoria for a little adventure. Adventure is the perfect cure for boredom!
I actually enjoyed this little Biscornu project even more than I had anticipated.  The word Biscornu refers to the shape of this project and if you'd like to know the detailed instructions on making one for yourself there are plenty of places to look.  I like small stitching projects....the kind that don't take a years worth of dedication to complete. This one fit the bill just fine in that regard.  I have never been a big fan of the look of aida cloth so hopefully I will work my way towards using a nice woven linen...we'll see how it goes.  For now, this was the best choice for preserving my sanity.  Hopefully my swap partner will like her new Biscornu!  I wanted to make it large enough to use as a pin cushion, and so it is...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Extra Egg Whites...What's a girl to do??

 A recent rash of baking had left me with 4 lonely egg whites sitting patiently in my fridge waiting for the just the right purpose to present itself to me.  Well after a little thought, I decided that it might be just the right time for a Pavlova.  It turned out to be an absolutely wonderful idea. Meringues are not something that have ever interested me which might explain why this is the first Pavlova I have ever made.  However after this most delicious experiment.....I might have to revisit meringues as well.  I had some concern over the dissolving of every last grain of sugar in the whipped egg whites as the recipe cautioned me was so crucial.  My batch definitely had some undissolved grains of sugar......but no weeping occurred as a result of it.....and the Pavlova was crisp and sweet on the outside and all marshmallowy softness on the inside just as the recipe promised it would be.  My fresh fruit selection was rather limited with green grapes, kiwis, bananas and apples to choose from.  After a lot of deliberation I decided to go with kiwis (which seems to be traditional) and a few green grapes.  I had thought about adding some raspberry sauce but decided against it on this first kick at the can.  The end of the story is.....I'll most definitely make another if the smiles from my boys are any indication.  There are many recipe available for Pavlova....this one is from the Basic Recipes cookbook from Australian Women's was so easy, it would be silly not to try it:)  What a super easy and nice looking dessert to make for dinner guests!

Pavlova (Serves 6)
4 egg whites (from large eggs)
1 cup castor sugar (run your regular white sugar in the food processor for a few minutes if you have none)

1 cup (250mL) cold whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

3 kiwis peeled and sliced (or a combination of fruit of your choice)

Place egg whites in a clean bowl (make sure it's free of any oil or grease residue) and beat with electric mixer on high until soft peaks form.  Then gradually add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time beating until all visible grains are dissolved each time.  If you add the sugar all at once, it will take much longer to beat until no grains are visible.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down several times during this beating process.  This should take about 10 minutes. Line a baking tray with parchment and draw out an 20cm circle on it to help keep your Pavlova shape circular.  Scrape all the meringue into the center of the circle on the parchment lined sheet and spread the meringue out towards the edge of the circle until it is 1cm inside the circle.  Try to make the sides of the Pavlova as straight up as possible drawing the back of a spoon up the sides to make furrows.  This will make the  sides of the Pavlova stronger as it bakes.  Level the top of the Pavlova. Bake in a very slow oven 120C or 250F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the outside feels crisp and dry.  Once it is ready, turn the oven off and leave the Pavlova to cool in the oven with the door ajar.  Leave it until the oven, the Pavlova, and the baking sheet are cool to touch or at least an hour.  You may cut a circle in the top with a very sharp knife and push the top gently down to create a slight depression for the filling if the center is not already depressed.  Fill with whipped cream sweetened and flavoured as you like, then top with fresh fruit and serve immediately. I used a 1 cup container of whipping cream whipped with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp sugar and it seemed to be just the right amount of whipped cream and topped it all off with two sliced kiwi and a handful of green grapes.  Kiwi, strawberry and passion fruit seem to be traditional toppings, but the options are limitless and I can hardly wait for all the summer berries to be out to try this again:)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Little Red Finds........Little Red Books

It was one of those days when you have great luck finding things that you didn't even know you needed. maybe I didn't need a darned thing......but never the less, I managed to come across two things I could use.  I just happened to be preparing for another swap-bot swap that was requiring a bit of red cross stitch.  Well......I don't really know if I've ever done cross stitch before......scratch that.....I just remembered doing an orange owl cross stitch picture with my gramma when I was little.  I can picture it now.....the stitches were huge.  They must have been 1 cm across (no exaggeration) I wonder where that picture went??  I have done much more needle point and petite point than cross stitch...but not to say I've done tons.  I'm not sure why I've never done a lot of cross stitch.....but I think I prefer the petite point and needle point designs and am not so fond of traditional 'cute' cross stitch patterns.....who knows.  
The cutest cross stitch I've ever seen was done by my gramma on the sleeves of a Ukrainian shirt that she had made for my mother when mom was just  a little girl.  I remember 2 rows of rainbow coloured roosters stitched up the side sleeves of a soft linen shirt.  It was just the prettiest thing ever.  I wish I knew  where that shirt was now.
The second book I found is equally as fun as the first and is filled with East Coast mitten fun it that....more on that one another time...
Since I knew I had to find a suitable bit of red cross stitch to complete my swap project.......I decided that I must have this book, and it is just plumb full of patterns recovered from vintage pieces.  I have a bit of renewed interest in cross stitch now and am making a bit of progress.  I have never been fond of the look of aida cloth, but it has made this first attempt easier...I think.  Well only a little bit more cross stitching needed for another matching piece and I can start to put things together.  Do you have any idea what I might be making?  

I bet you can figure it out!  BTW there is a mistake in my work....but I'm hoping it's not that noticeable.....because OMG is it hard to rip out.......I know this from a bit of practice on this piece already.  So I think I'll call this error my Amish Quilting it's supposed to be there....OK!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thrift Shop Goodness.....mostly:)

There hasn't been a lot of time to get out and enjoy the thrift shops lately.....but I did manage to squeeze in a few quick trips and pick up some things here and there.  I found three pretty tins on two different of which I had in mind for my mother.....but with any luck she'll not like it......then they'll be mine.....ALL MINE....(insert evil laugh here).  I also found a beautiful large pitcher perfect for summer lemonade......cannot wait to put that into use.
The red and turquoise tin is already in use and will soon be on it's way to tonight's parent meeting at the school.  I've been busy trying lots of new baking recipes for another post  that I'm getting ready for, and  have been doing a wee bit of sewing here and some embroidery there as well.  The pin cushion above  (just finished it) will soon be mailed for one of the PIF's I'd promised.  Busy here....keeps me out of trouble I suppose. more batch of cookies to bake, supper to cook and it's time to get going to that meeting.  I hope you are having a productive and enjoyable week as well!

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's a Lovely...... Lucky..... Day!

It's a beautiful day with all the promises of our Spring soon to come.  This year's poor snowfall is on it's last legs and it is only a matter of time now.  Grass is visible here and there and soon there will be big beautiful puddles everywhere and we'll all need to find our rainboots.  I make a point to jumping in the puddles with Ike every Spring.  Spring was such a fun time when I was little.  Sure it's chilly and wet.....but that's what homemade soup and buns are for!  mmmmm.....note to self....make some buns today!
Well after depositing Ike safely at school, I returned home to check my emails only to find out I had a surprise in my in box.  I had won a Giveaway that I had entered last week at Bead Happily Ever After.  How fabulous is that??? 
Well it gets even more fabulous as I scroll down my in box (I should really clean it up) only to discover another such message from another Giveaway that I had entered.........I thought I'd share with you these two pretty things. 

This one is a print from A Mile A Minute.  They both just drip with Springishness....don't you think?  Now I just feel guilty winning two such pretty things.........but I'll get over it:)