07 July 2014 @ 09:52 am

It’s become clear to me I’m doing this Kickstarter thing wrong. For example, take this guy, who is running a Kickstarter to make potato salad. From a modest $10 goal, he has now reached over $7500.

For my next Kickstarter, I will be making fudge. The challenges will be that I will get fancy chocolate molds and put the fudge into those instead of just a glass pan and cutting it up. I may even get cute little paper wrappers for the fancy shaped fudge. Low-end backers will know that there is more fudge in this world because of them. Mid-range backers will have access to a “professional” video (shot on my phone while I’m stirring boiling hot sugar) tutorial on making fudge. High-end backers will get a box of fudge.

Who’s with me? :)

Share this:

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

12 May 2014 @ 04:25 pm

Young Indiana inspects our potatoes, which are growing like gangbusters.
Young Indy & Potatoes

I thought the idea of putting them near holes in the container was that the tops would grow that way, but apparently the whole thing is shallow enough that both layers of potatoes are just reaching for the top. Gangbusters!

strawberries & lettuce

Several of our strawberry plants didn’t take and I haven’t gone to get more, but two are looking healthy, and our lettuce is growing nicely! In fact, all of that has now been clipped back and will shortly be part of our dinner!

We’ve just sowed carrots (for the value of ‘sowed’ that involves a 4 year old’s assistance, so basically: handsful of seeds tossed into the container to see what happens), I’ve got cucumbers to plant for pickling, and we have a few pea runners going, but the slugs are getting to them and I need to … well, what I really still want to do is get hanging containers for strawberries, peas and tomatoes, but really to do that I also need someone with more enthusiasm for drilling holes in concrete than any of us have. :)

I wanted to make peanut butter pie while my in-laws were here, and after some exasperation, failed to find a recipe that did what I wanted. I mixed and mashed some and added a bit of my own and came up with this, upon which I forgot to drizzle chocolate, not that it by any stretch of the imagination needed it. :)

peanut butter pie

Share this:

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

21 November 2013 @ 10:55 am

All y’all know I like to make jams and things and although I can’t find a post talking about it, I did an experiment with my last batch of peach jam where I used about 30% less sugar because the stuff I’d made was So Sweet and So Stiff and because it had been years and years since I’d made jam and I’d *thought* that looked like an *awful* lot of sugar and the reduced sugar version turned out beautifully and not too sweet although I thought I could cut another half cup of sugar anyway


all of that got me and Mom talking about the sugar in jams and finding old recipes and now I have a guest blog post from her on her most recent Adventures In Jam Making!

Now then. Here’s a fascinating bit of information.

Back in the Olden Days, my cohorts and I used to make a lot of jam. Seriously. We’d spend days in late summer picking Alaska wild blueberries, strawberries no bigger than your thumbnail, and raspberries from the Sekrit Patch near Stormy Lake, and later on, loads of lowbush cranberries. We’d pick wild currants for jelly. The latter two didn’t need pectin, but for the other berries we used commercial pectin.

In the last several years and more lately in the last one or two, the jams have begun to taste a lot more like sweet than like the fruits they’re made from. I began to suspect that Sure Jell and Certo had changed the proportions. In the spirit of investigation, I inquired of a friend of mine (who shall here remain nameless unless she wishes to comment because she may not want to own up to having pectin with a pull date of 1999 on her shelves) whether she had any old pectin, and if so, could she have a look at the proportion of fruit to sugar. I was specifically interested in blackberries and strawberries, as Farmer Tom grew both this past summer.

And somewhat to my horror, but not to my surprise, the amount of sugar from 1999 to 2012 increased by 36% for jams made with berries. The level in marmalade increased 20%. I don’t know about Other Fruit, but we can find out, I bet.

I have just made a batch of blackberry jam using the new pectin and the old proportions. You will all be very happy to know that it set beautifully and tastes more of blackberries than of sugar.

Another friend has a 1969 jam recipes sheet which she’s going to scan. I’m looking forward to seeing what proportions *those* have. Also, interestingly, although they swear up and down that your jam will be a disaster if you have too much liquid, the liquid pectin proportions for jam-to-sugar are identical to the powdered pectin proportions, suggesting that the level of liquid isn’t *that* critical.

(I realise that a startling number of my readers here not only are jam makers (and have slow cookers!) but are *hardcore*, and don’t use pectin at all, but I’m not that dedicated and thought this might be useful and/or interesting for the other pectin-users out there! :))

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

05 November 2013 @ 04:26 pm

So as most people probably know, I like to bake and make candy. I’m also (no false modesty here) very good at it. At the holidays I usually make goodies to send to Ted’s work, and to hand out in tins to people, but I’m almost never there to see people enjoy it. I know they do, because Ted pretty regularly comes home to deliver marriage proposals after I’ve sent fudge or brownies to his work.

This weekend, though, I got to field my own marriage proposals. :) I was asked to bring fudge to WFC (and then the guy who asked for it didn’t get any!), so I was in the rare position of actually getting to watch people take the first bite.

It was really kind of awesome, in a terribly flattering way. Nearly everybody took a small bite and then got incredulous looks that were often followed by an equally incredulous, “You made this?” or “You make really good fudge,” and then two or three minutes of staring blissfully into space as they nibbled it away.

And I did in fact get a marriage proposal, and someone else offered to actually *buy* the last piece off me (I said no, as it was promised to someone), and people followed me around making meepful hopeful expressions asking for more. It was pretty great. :)

But I’ve now had challenges laid down! One is for a friend who can’t eat dairy and another is for what we believe is probably ginger-maple fudge (she was certain of the ginger, but thought there was probably another ingredient, so I went looking for ginger fudge recipes and sent several and she thought ginger-maple sounded right :)), so I shall rise to meet the challenges! The maple-ginger will probably be pretty easy to make at a quality I approve of (someone offered to beta-test the batches, but the truth is I’m the final arbiter of quality because nobody is nearly as harsh on my fudge as I am), but the non-dairy will be very interesting indeed to test and try until I’ve got something I think is suitable. :)baba

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

17 September 2013 @ 04:59 pm

My sister is having a 1920s themed party and I am almost certain to get outbid on this fabulous dress. :) (Not that I can figure out how we can go anyway, when everyone we know is attending and it’s after Young Indiana’s bedtime, but let’s not think about that just now. :))

Last week was the 2nd Laydeez Do Comics meet-up in Dublin. It was better-attended than the first and equally interesting. I brought cookies (triple chocolate, or Chocolate Migraine) and wore my red bowler hat, the former of which were appreciated by all and the latter of which was particularly appreciated by our hosts, who had forgotten a hat-substitute to pass the hat for donations. So my hat was enlisted, and to my pure, ridiculous delight, cookies and hat alike were featured by Paul Sheridan, the artist of the evening:


*delighted* :)

I got my WeLoveFine Bearclaw necklace! And I also found the one a friend made for me in college, so I post a photo of them both for comparison. I truly kinda love the smaller one more, because hey, it’s all mine, but the necklace joining on the official one is more practical–the loops for the chain are behind each ear, rather than welded in the centre of it. So they each have something going for them.


ETA: Young Indiana just asked me to put the Bearclaw neckace on, “so we can see what powers it gives you.” Now, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but he’s never said anything like that before. I’d say the kid has a pretty good inherent idea of what constitutes a magic item. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

22 July 2013 @ 09:10 am

So far I have made one amazingly successful batch of vanilla ice cream, a frozen chocolate mousse, and a crystalized lump of strawberry blah. This is *not* my usual kind of treat-making record, and I’m perturbed by it.

OTOH, I made these chocolate chip meringue cookies with leftover egg whites, and *they* turned out amazingly. Meringue is supposed to be hard to make, but historically I have very little trouble with things that are hard to make (we shall not speak of the first angel food cake, particularly since I know perfectly well it went wrong because I hate folding and took the instructions as written too literally in the hopes that it would all turn out all right, though, well, no, of course it didn’t), and though I’d never made meringue cookies before they’re perfect. Unfortunately, meringue really ought to be eaten at the very least on the day it’s made and ideally within about two hours, and while I did my best, even I wasn’t able–or willing–to eat 2 dozen meringue cookies in 2 hours. (The recipe says it makes 12. I used 1 extra egg white, because that’s what I had, and had 24 very generous cookies. I cannot imagine how big they must be if you’re making only 12.) Anyway, perhaps I’ll bring the slightly soft and sticky meringue cookies to the butcher boys, since Ted forgot to bring them to work, and the only other option is to ditch them. Or eat them, but I’m trying not to do that.

Saturday night I went out for writerly cocktails with several friends, which was fun and gossipy, and because hey, how often do I get to go out for cocktails, I went so far as to put on a dress to do so. When Young Indiana saw me, he gasped, “Mommy! You’re a *beautiful princess*! That’s your *dancing dress*!”

Pretty sweet kid. :)

Here is the daily link to the Last Days project. And to my friend Brian’s Swan River Press project. :)

And here is a very pretty painting of Gambit, for those of you who like that sort of thing. Hat tip to my friend E for the link. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

21 February 2013 @ 10:23 am

The last couple batches of bread I’ve made, I’ve done cold rises on. The theory here is that it means not forgetting it’s rising due to Mommyhood, and therefore having it ready to go at lunch time. So I’ve made the dough in the evening to bake in the morning.

First time, I did the cold rise on the first rise. It worked all right except the dough was very difficult to manipulate into the loaf pan for the second rise, ’cause it was, y’know, cold. :) One end was a little short, consequently.

This time I did the first rise last night as a warm one, shaped it, and put it in the loaf pan for an overnight cold rise. And it looked quite nice when I took it out this morning, but I think it’s a little disappointingly short, after baking. *scowls* I donno if maybe I should take it out and let it warm a little while before putting it in the oven, or what. *mutter, mutter*

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

20 November 2012 @ 04:31 pm
I brought a chocolate cake to the butcher boys last Friday. It was a pretty good cake--the texture was amazing--and yer wan, the guy who started it all in the first place (she brought us cake for being cheeky! he said to another butcher as he put the cake up) could hardly believe I'd brought another one.

The young man who had asked last time I was in whether I'd be bringing another cake in, well. I think he'd be asking to date me if I was available. :)

Anyway, I said next month I'd bring them some fudge, and yer wan's eyes nearly rolled back in his head. I said I make *very* good fudge, and he said, "Ah, ye must be American then!" I donno, maybe the Irish make bad fudge? :) But we stopped by today and yer wan (I gotta learn his name) said he'd scarpered off with two pieces to bring home, and that my hands were the hands of an angel. *laughs* *laughs again*
Current Mood: amusedamused
10 September 2012 @ 09:59 pm

I’d intended to make this yesterday, but after going forth to get necessary ingredients and being forced to face down the ungodly crush of people milling about because of the upcoming hurly match, all I wanted to do was hide at home and sob. So Young Indiana and I made this today: a Butter Sponge Cake.

Butter Sponge Cake

Well, cupcakes, anyway. The cake itself is nothing much: sweet but flavorless. The ganache frosting is almost a pudding, and my husband approved of it mightily. The recipe said garnish with whipped cream, and hey, who am I to argue with whipped cream?

(x-posted from the essential kit)

05 September 2012 @ 09:26 am

Well, I had to do something with the 9 (NINE!) egg yolks left over from the angel food doughnut, so I made some homemade chocolate pudding. It didn’t set up very well (as Ted said, “The thing with pudding is you follow the recipe plus or minus ten minutes of cooking…” and I had been trying to get it done so I /only/ followed the recipe, instead of adding ten minutes of cooking, even though I suspected it was Too Liquidy Still), but it tastes gorgeous. I’m bringing the rest to my family so we don’t eat it all. :)

Know what I cannot find in this country? Baking chocolate. So my pudding is slightly lumpy from using cocoa powder and butter to make my chocolate with. It’s not actually possible that one *can’t* buy baking chocolate here, is it? (Of course it is. Last time I went looking for some, everyone I asked had *no idea* what I was talking about. And Diane Duane, who’s lived here a lot longer than I have, just said “Oh god, a question for the ages,” so…)

I would like to report that this Fitbit thing continues to be quite addictive. Pretty soon here I’m going to start using it to record calories, I can tell. :)

We think we need a new computer, since the old one whose All-Spark died is 4 years old anyway. The question, of course, is whether to get a spiffy all in one touch screen one or a much cheaper tower. Maybe I should do a new Old Races Short Story Project to fund a spiffy one… :)

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

(x-posted from the essential kit)