Saturday, August 27, 2011

August Daring Bakers: Candylicious!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

While I know my entry isn't nearly awesome enough to go for the prize, I had soooo much fun with this project! 

My first candy was a sweet coconut-stuffed candy.  Inspired by recipes from around the web (Joy the Baker and Have Fork Will Eat) I ended up with this combination for the moist, chewy interior:

1 cup sweetened condensed milk (about 7 or 8 oz)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 good dash of salt
2 1/12 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes (I always get this from the bulk section at our market, it's fresher and less plastic-tasting)

Stir the first four ingredients together, then add the coconut.  Cover tightly and throw into the refrigerator for several hours before using.  With your sticky little fingers, form into your desired shapes.  If your kitchen is warm, you'll want to re-chill the shapes before dipping into the chocolate. Also, the harder you pack the mixture into your mold ( I used an oblong Tablespoon measure-er thing), the easier it will be to to dip.  My looser-ly packed shapes tended to fall apart in the bowl of chocolate.  The only way to save the situation was to dig it out with a spoon and eat it.  Chirp-chirp was of great help here!

My second combination was peanut butter and chocolate.  This one was the request (maybe a little more like a demand? How about insistent request? ) from Mr. Boom.  For peanut butter and chocolate, one need look no further than the Brown Eyed Baker for inspiration.  I tweaked her peanut butter cup recipe until we all agreed we'd gone to heaven. 

1 cup cheap creamy peanut butter (the good stuff will separate)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all the ingredients and chill, just like the coconut recipe above.

Confession here on the marshmallow.  I used store-bought marshmallows. It's just too dang hot to play with melted sugar.  I'm so sorrrrrrrry.  What I should have done was this, from a previous Daring Baker challenge.

This may or may not have been by second breakfast, elevensies, and perhaps first and second lunch today...

You could have it too, just follow this link to the printable directions on tempering chocolate and making all kinds of delicious candies in your OWN (and hopefully cooler) kitchen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini fritters (spell that one ten times fast!)

My garden runneth over, with zucchini.  I've made zucchini bread a few times already, and while we all like zucchini bread a lot, we are getting a little tired of the same ol' same ol'.  Mr. Boom and Chirp-chirp refuse to eat fried zucchini, no matter how much Parmesan cheese is melted over the top, so I'm trying to find new ways to use up the squash. 

A fellow Master Gardener brought me a piece of zucchini cake the other day, and it was sooooo good!  The recipe came from her CSA (a weekly fruit and vegetable delivery service straight from the farm), and she said she'd pass the recipe along to me.  She did send me a bunch of recipes for zucchini, but not for the particular slice of cake in question.

I finally e~mailed the CSA and asked if they'd share it with me.  They said sure, no problem, it's form Martha Stewart.  Lo and behold, I had the recipe here in my own home!  The cake was featured in the July Martha Stewart magazine.  Hooray!

In the same article, a picture of zucchini fritters caught my eye.  The fritter recipe called for exactly twice the amount of zucchini I had in the fridge, twice the eggs, and twice the onion.  Perfect!  I made the fritters for myself, and began reheating leftovers for the sure-to-be naysayers.  You know, of course, that I can't follow a recipe to save my soul, so here's what I did.

About one cup of zucchini, about one half an onion, together strained through a bit of cheesecloth.  About one cup of grated Parmesan cheese (another leftover), and a palmful of flour.  Also salt and pepper, but you can't really see those.

Mix it all up gently with one egg.  The last egg.  A store-bought egg because the hens refuse to lay in this heat.

Fry them up in a bit of oil in a cast-iron skillet set to blazing hot.  Throw the first three onto a plate and cook up the second three.

Come back to find the first three MISSING ENTIRELY!  Mr. Boom and Chirp-chirp like zucchini fritters, it turns out.  Like them a lot, it turns out.

Well, we've got lots of zucchini, but I'll need to get some eggs and onions.  Both of which, by the way, should be coming from the yard but aren't.  Thank goodness for the modern supermarket, and thank goodness for  a new way to serve the family squash.

I'll make the cake next, after I get the eggs.

I'm sorry to say that neither of these recipes are on the Marth Stewart Website, but I don't think you need a real recipe for the fritters, anyway.  Try it and let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And some stuff I forgot!

Yesterday I told you I only recently learned about hornworms and sphinx moths.  What I forgot to tell you was where I learned it!  You've got to check out this blog post by Lauren Scheuer of Hunt and Peck who writes and illustrates about her adventures with chicken ownership.  She always makes me laugh!

We've been working hard to make sure we don't lose any more of our own little chooks. This morning we found another skunk in one of our live traps.  This little guy makes the fourth we've removed from our property.  Since it was already pretty warm outside before we rolled out of bed this morning, I was concerned about hydration.  I used a spouted water bottle to squirt a little water in through the fine mesh of the trap, and the sweet little skunk came right over, put one paw through the mesh to support his/her weight, and then proceeded to sip the water so delicately from the stream of water. 

So.  Freaking.  Cute.

Mr. Boom said we couldnt' keep the skunk as a pet.  Mr. Boom said I couldn't hug him, squeeze him, and call him George.  Mr. Boom didn't look into the cute little brown eyes of the skunk and fall in love.

We took him (the skunk, that is) up to a little canyon nearby, away from all homes and chicken coops, and set him free.  After he came out of the trap he circled back around to take a good look at us.  Mr. Boom backed away, but I was ready to embrace him (the skunk, that is).  At the last second, though, he turned away and ran off into the bush.  He was my favorite little pet skunk I've never had.

Today we're tackling the beautification of the side of our shop/garage.  It's a long, narrow, ugly spot that grows weeds and nothing else.  It needs help. 

I need a cold drink. 

Bottoms up, everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Just some random stuff

Check out this link!  This site linked on the Google Earth Blog tells you exactly which satellites are above you at any given time.  From playing around, I've also determined there's NO WAY aliens could, or would ever want to, land here on our earth.  I know they wouldn't come to live, and I doubt they'd even think it a nice place to visit.  Seriously, there's just too much detritus out there to navigate around: it looks like the earth has fleas.  If our planet was a Snoopy character it would be Pigpen with his tenacious cloud of dust encompassing him at all times. 

In other news! We made an offer on a house.  We didn't get the house.  I wasn't going to fall in love with it before we knew our offer was accepted, but I did anyway.  Three acres, a pond, outbuildings, brick walkways, big gazebo, tall trees along both edges of the property and all the way up the driveway.  Fruit trees, raised beds, cold frames.  This place had it all.  But someone else got it.  Ah well.  C'est la vie.

In other news!  A Sphinx moth flew into our office this evening.  I never knew until this past week that tomato horn worms grow up into Sphinx moths, aka hummingbird moths.  I did a post last year, showing a local tomato hornworm.  These guys are just too cool for words, not that I let that stop me.  Ever. Ahem.

In other news! Plantars warts suck.  Liquid nitrogen does not belong in the proximity of bare skin.  I reminded my doctor of this.  I told him we could go out in the parking lot and use the liquid nitrogen to make ice cream instead.  I told him that if I was being expected to pay good money for the treatment, the  canister of gas ought to look fancier than a regular ol' helium canister.  I told him I should at least get some drugs.  My doctor never listens to me.  I will brag a little and say I never cried nor swore in the treatment room as he masochistically held the wand of nitrogen to the base of my foot.  He didn't see my cry one single tear (unless he looked out the window and saw me yelling, cursing, and screaming in my car).

In other news!  Anyone want zucchini?  I have some to share...