love bake create

Baking and babies; always better fresh April 15, 2013

Trying to fit all the categories of my life (wife, mom, friend, employee, runner, baker, cleaner and all the others) hasn’t been exactly a breeze. Did I mention trying to stay chipper through all of this? It all became too much last weekend when Eric and I had a massive blow up that resulted in the kicking of a door and the throwing of bacon. Worst of all? I can’t remember what on Earth we were angry about. 

And isn’t it funny how the things we need always come into our lives at exactly the right time? Last night I found this beautiful poem through another blog:

 

Mother, O’ Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
 
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
 
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek – peekaboo.
 
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
 
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
 
 
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Standing, our little peanut is standing! She surprised me earlier this month with this new standing trick. I put her into her crib, thinking she would be just fine, rolling around and maybe crawling to the other side. I heard coos. So I kept putting away the laundry. More coos. But they’re louder and higher up. That’s when I turned to see her gripping onto the rail and standing proud. Two though simultaneously zipped through my head; “Yay!” and “Crap, we have to drop the mattress!” I think she planned this, seeing as we just put her crib together less than two weeks beforehand. 
 
I also had plans to bake something for Easter. Instead, Ella and I painted eggs and our friend Daniel baked.
 
Daniel’s Gingersnap Cookies
 
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¾ cup shortening

1 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

¼ cup molasses

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking soda

2 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Cloves

extra granulated sugar

 1.     Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in egg and molasses.

2.     Combine flour, soda, and spices; blend into creamed mixture

3.     Shape into small balls (1 inch in diameter). Roll the tops of balls in sugar.

4.     Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

5.     Bake at 350 F. for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Don’t overbake.

6.     Cookies can be removed just as tops are starting to crackle. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 40 cookies.

He mentioned something about forgetting the baking soda, so I’m not sure that it’s that necessary to this recipe, the cookies seemed fine without it. 

So hopefully I’ll be getting back onto my blogging horse here and squeezing the most out of every second the day has to offer. As always…

 

ENJOY!

 

 

Love is in the air January 23, 2013

I know it’s always said that Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier every year, but I’m pretty sure the same can be said about Valentine’s Day. Maybe I was just naive as a child and didn’t notice, but this year while scouring the aisles for tea, I came face to face with shelves packed with pink and red t …  a month ago. I understand trying to get a head start on things, but seriously, the woman ahead of me at the checkout was still buying for New Years!

So even though the Valentine’s Day goodies have been on the shelves for a month already, I’ve managed to put off any planning until as late as possible (surprise). On top of that, I’m faced with an exciting opportunity this year; not only do I get to bake for Valentine’s Day, which is only a week after my anniversary (which will include baking) but this year I get to be in the same city as my best buddy Krysti-Anna, whose birthday is this coming Monday(and will include cake, naturally).

All that said, I have (brace yourselves) a plan.

Take a moment, please. I needed one. Hell, my head is still swooning a bit from the shock.

So with all this … planning… going on, I’ve decided that today I’m going to look back at last year’s anniversary/Valentine’s cake. Yes, there was only one, because we had just moved to Squamish and I was in no mood to make two cakes. Don’t worry, I’ll make up for it this year.

Without further ado, last year’s cake.

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Don’t be fooled by the picture, he was small in stature; about the height of a pop can.

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Also, please feel free to ignore the screwdriver, hydro bill, bolts and random bits of paper on the counter. I was still finding places for everything after moving in and the day I made this, I wanted to get it done while Eric was at work (it was his surprise cake).

The squirrel was made of pound cake that was poured into a bear mold. After baking, his feet and ears were chopped to go from bear to squirrel. The tail and heart were made of sugar cookies. Naturally I made about ten of each. In case of breakage.

The rest was  royal icing made from icing sugar and varying amounts of milk to get the consistency I was after. Everything that has a smooth finish like the eyes, nose and icing on the heart was icing so thick I handled it like modelling clay.

All the fur was piped with a star tip, slightly smaller for the body and slightly larger for the tail fur. The icing was quite thick since I didn’t want it to droop, resulting in several breaks; my forearms cramped up and my whole arm started shaking at several points. Much respect to those who do this for a living.

So how did Eric feel about the squirrel?

Well….

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After he chomped off each ear, the cookie (sadly) fell on the floor, so our deaf squirrel was left to announce the he was “Nu_s About You”. There was only one thing left to do.

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Much like our squirrelly friend, this season of love is brief, so …

ENJOY!!!

 

Christmas!!! It’s not too early! November 17, 2012

Filed under: Holiday Cakes — lovebakecreate @ 8:59 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Christmas 2010 in Dublin. I remember Eric’s mom telling us to be “really excited about Christmas”. Pfft. We didn’t even have to try.

I have to admit, we are a bit of a Christmas loving family. For all the time Eric and I have done the long distance thing, our one rule has always been to have Christmas together. No matter what. At least two jobs and $4000 worth of plane tickets have made sure that we spend Christmas together.

Last year was the first time it was just the two of us, plus cat. We bought our very first Christmas tree as a couple … and had it up on October 30th. That’s right, we beat Starbucks. Even when we were in Dublin with zero money for a tree (we did, after all have a wedding to fund) Eric went out and splurged on two very tiny LED Christmas trees that were about three inches tall. Why two? That’s what came in the package. Turns out they were supposed to go into one of those little Christmas villages. Well, they went on out coffee table instead.

This year has been slightly different. With a new member of the family, this luxury called time seems to have gone into hiding. Add that to the fact that we’re going back to Manitoba for Christmas and the house is looking rather bare. There’s no tree, no lights out and no snow outside (not that I’m complaining too much about that last bit). So last night, I declared that I would be damned if there wasn’t going to at the very least be some Christmas baking in this house!

So I made some Egg Nog logs

 

 

These are cookies that were absolutely mandatory at my mom’s house during the holiday season, but seeing as I haven’t been there for Christmas since 2009, I’ve been missing them. This is the first year I attempted to make them on my own, remembering my mom saying something about them being a pain in the hole to make. They were actually quite quick and easy … at first.

The first step is to make the dough with this recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup of butter, softened

3/4 cup of sugar

1 and 1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

2 tsps vanilla extract

3 cups flour

*the original recipe also calls for 1 tsp rum extract but that wasn’t in my cupboards so I didn’t use it. Really didn’t change the taste as far as I’m concerned but, as always, feel free to experiment.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. The butter should be at about room temperature and like most people I keep my butter in the fridge, so I cheated and microwaved it for ten seconds at a time until it was soft but not melted. Continue mixing, adding the nutmeg, egg and extract(s). Once everything is  mixed together well, add the flour. You might have to stop the mixer and do this part by hand. My mixer struggled and slowed, poor thing. When everything’s mixed together you should have what looks and feels like play dough.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree Celsius. Take your (play) dough and roll it into thick log -like dough sticks. The original recipe (and my mom) tell you to make sure they are uniform in length and thickness. Bah. Thickness, sure, so they bake equally. Length? Make them whatever length you want. This is what I ended up with.

For anyone wondering why there is a pig staring at the logs, that is my oven mitt. You know, one of those silicone deals.

Moving on, as you can see some of the logs are stumpy, others are quite long. If you’re going to serve these at a party and someone says it’s not fair because someone got stuck with the stumpy ones, well, they should have made it to the dessert table sooner.

These need to bake for about 15 minutes or until they’re slightly browned.

You could leave your logs like this, essentially making them sugar logs, but there is one more step to elevate these to the level of Egg Nog logs. That’s right…..

 

FROSTING!

This is a Christmas recipe, so naturally it needs frosting with the highest fat and calorie content possible.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups + 1 cup icing sugar (they need to be separate)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tblsp cream (I used whipped cream)

Cream the butter until it looks light and fluffy. Add the first two cups of icing sugar and the extract and keep mixing. Add in the cream and, yup, keep mixing. Add the last cup of icing sugar and keep mixing. You want to end up with very thick icing that looks like something you could plaster the wall with so once everything is mixed together well, you may have to add more cream or icing sugar. Do so slowly! A tiny bit of cream goes a long way!

Again, when you add the vanilla extract you can also add a 1/2 teaspoon rum extract (or actual rum, depending on who’s coming to dinner) but it’s up to you. I had neither, so it didn’t go in. In fact, I sadly realized I had about two tablespoons less a full cup of icing sugar so I wouldn’t be able to make quite so much icing. I did a bit of math to adjust for my lack of ingredients and made this much icing.

 

 

Yeah, sad, I know. Didn’t help that my natural instinct when baking is to stick my finger in to check that it tastes right so I had even less to work with than what you see.

With whatever icing you have at this point, slap it onto the chilled cookie logs. Nothing fancy, just slap it on there. Then, with a little fork, scratch into the icing to make it look like bark. Final added touch? Add a bit of nutmeg. I like the big chunks you have to grate yourself as you can see from the photo.

 

Yes, it’s that brown lump beside the grater, not left overs from the Halloween cake, I promise.

Like I said, I taste things along the way. However, nothing quite prepared me for that first bite of this little log once it was all put together. The taste instantly took me back to my childhood Christmases. Ah, let the Holidays begin!

Oh, a quick word about the name; I have absolutely no idea why these are called Egg Nog logs. There is egg, they are logs, but there is nothing egg-nog-y about them. I also said it was a recipe from long ago; originally found in Country Woman magazine, November/December issue from 1992. That’s right, I’ve been lucky enough to have these for Christmas for twenty years (minus a couple years when I was in Ireland and Vancouver).

 

Happy baking!