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Making Divinity On A Snowy Day

 

Sunlit snowy day

 

Today was going great. I was well into my day of holiday treat making with Dorie Greenspan’s Truffles resting in the refrigerator when I thought to myself “why not try a new recipe? I’m on a roll right?” I have had The Casual Baker’s Divinity recipe printed out for just the right moment, and reading through the ingredient list I was pleased as punch with myself finding that I was well stocked. So off I went into the land of Divinity.

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In my own defense, there was no way for me to know what was in store for me. I laugh at myself right now, perched at the kitchen bar typing away after making the whimsical decision to make divinity. Glancing over with a heavy sigh at my green marble countertops and previously spotless stove-top now covered with Divinity guts. A sticky, gooey mess; I’ve gone and candied my stove-top. My youngest, the ever happy soul that she is, has set to scooping up the goo and has turned it into her own candy project; far be it from her to let sugar, water and organic corn syrup go to waste.

What happened, you ask? All was going just fine; I was cruising along solo in the kitchen (read: without distractions).  I find that I need a distraction free space while making candy, but somehow it didn’t dawn on me that making candy was exactly what I was doing (Yes! I did read the recipe thoroughly but was thinking more meringue than candy). I’ll blame it on the absence of a second cup of coffee.

In walked D2 (Daughter #2) who set about to do her English assignment at the kitchen bar. “This is great,” I thought to myself, bursting with pride “she is self-motived and getting her work done.” …until the questions started rolling in. Distraction number one. Next, my husband walked in and started a great conversation (distraction number two) which took me away from the stove-top. Have I provided enough foreshadowing for you to guess what happens next in our holiday tale of woe? From the other room where I was in deep discussion, I heard my pot boiling over…”Oh, SUGAR!” I rushed back to the stove and it looked like a mad scientist’s bubbling mushroom spilling over the sides; an oooey-gooey syrupy monster. 

I tried to save it. I really did. I grabbed the printed directions and the candy thermometer to get my bearings. The temp read 253º, not 255º as required but I couldn’t get it higher without it growing into another bubbling monster so I poured it into my previously prepped foaming egg whites poste-haste which, as you may have surmised is not exactly how Sheena S. of the Casual Baker had envisioned the optimal scenario. I put the hand held blender to work, but two minutes into the seven called for it became readily apparent that this was a bad idea. I was splattering Divinity monster guts everywhere. It was supposed to be thick, but after double the time called for it looked just as runny as ever. I switched to a bigger bowl and stationary mixer as a last gasp effort to save my Divinity. Too little too late; nothing would save our stickily intertwined fates from a fall from grace of epic proportions.

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So what’s a girl to do? I peeled away my printed directions that were now at one with the counter and started to read the comments after the recipe directions. And here it was that I learned from the Divinity lovers community that Divinity is a fickle creature. Some even purported that if it is raining outside she refuses to take on the task because that subtle amount of moisture can make the difference “between bites of divinity and a puddle best consumed with a spoon” (KitschenBitsch). Others go on to say that 255º (let alone 253º!) is a tad low and they like to wait until the candy reaches 350º.

Well Kitschen Bitsch, you are correct. It is snowing lovely large flakes of frozen rain outside and I have a big fat puddle inside. Once again the weather has ruined my attempts and it has nothing to do with the distractions. Thanks for the easy out, until a sunny day when I’ll attempt it again!

Wishing you wild adventures from our kitchen to yours,
~Rachelle @ caramelizelife

3 Things That Could Happen When You Send Your Husband To The Supermarket.

Do you know what happens when your husband is at the Supermarket? There should be t-shirts made that say:

Supermarket T-shirt

What happens at the Supermarket stays at the Supermarket

What happens if said Supermarket provides vehicles with four multidirectional wheels and your husband is actually a large kid trapped in an adult body?

#1. I’m thinking first he will find the biggest object and turn it into a life sized toy.

#2. Next he will recruit someone to document the trip.

#3. Then he will share it with his buddies, one of them would be my husband (another large kid trapped in an adult body), who in turn will join the cause and support him in the fight against the evil grocery powers that be.

Then someone else’s husband (it takes teamwork to fight those evil grocery powers) will add the finishing touches.

 

 

Mission accomplished!

 

 

Rachelle
~having fun @caramelizelife

 

~Credits to:
Video and Super power wielding : Steve and Nate Hirsch
Super sound effects: E.A Weymuller
Superpowered visual effects: Paul Bagnulo

Turning Lemons into…

 

It seems as though the downpour of the four letter word, the one starting with the 18th letter of the alphabet, the one that rhymes with pain and shall never, in a ski town, be spoken out-loud during the winter has arrived, unceremoniously and uninvited. Our little mountain valley is begrudgingly receiving copious amounts of this four letter word. It would have been very welcome this past July when we were on fire. However, when given buckets of  **** in December, it has us all out doing our special chicken dances in the snow…or what’s left of it anyway.

 

First, we need to get our yodels fine tuned so we can wake up Ullr and remind him he’s slacking on the job. Next, we need to find whatever social media scheduling app Boreas is using to remind her that she is, after all, in the snow business and that, yes, we need more snow. Ullr, please blow this tropical pineapple express outta here. Heck, one of my children even double checked to make sure our rain stick was placed in the freezer for the winter just to seal the deal.
Rain Stick in the Freezer

In the winter we are a ski town and with that comes the need for snow. This summer we were metaphorically dealt lemons and I watched our community make lemonade by the helicopter load. Yesterday, it felt like lemons were falling from the sky in so many ways. That snow we depend upon, was being washed away by the ****. When the snow arrived unannounced in November we were thankful. Thankful to have a starting base for our skis to slide upon. However, with its über heavy, moisture laden load, the storm also took out beautiful old trees and in turn, our power. Again, like before, I was hearing from those who lost everything this summer, comments like “fitting we are having thanksgiving by candle light”. By now, one has to begin wondering “how much lemonade we can consume here in our little valley?” As I gaze out my windows, another damp gray day is holding on like a soaked towel that fell in the pool. The fact that it’s so very close to being winter, I’ve decided to make limoncello instead. Maybe Ullr will swing by for a nip!

 

Lemoncello

 

 

 

We formally invite Khione, goddess of snow, to join us for the holidays. We’ll set up the guest room and she can stay until March.

The Rugelach That Won Over France – Tuesdays with Dorie

 

This was Eva and my first time making rugelach so of course, I searched google images to get a better idea of what we were setting out to create.
The images were enticing and we both were excited to make a new sweet treat. Once our eyes curiosity had been met, of course we then wondered where, in history, did rugelach originate? Yes, I’m one of those people who own books like A History of Food and The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion  and those books have been known to take up residence on my nightstand. Silly, I know, but I have found myself laughing out loud to some of past superstitions.  So, of course, I am going to research the roots and cultures who brought this treat to us and to top it off, it’s a great teaching moment for homeschool.

My highlight from the research is learning that rugelach can be spelled so many ways. Sweet news to me so I can stop, rechecking how to spell this word once and for all!  Karen Hochman shares that it’s known to be spelled any number of ways; rugelah, rugalah, rugelach, rugalach, rugulah, ruggelach, and ruggalach. She also gives the best historical view into the land of the European Jewish pastries that I could find. If your interest is peeked even a little you should check it out here .

At first read, I noticed Dorie wrote of peanuts being part of her rugelach, that won over the Air France attendants so I set out peanuts, only later to frantically re-read again and again the ingredient list looking for the peanuts we missed. There are none in this recipe, instead Dorie calls for pecans. Since pecans are not my or any of my family’s favorite nut I swapped them for almonds.

RKW_0605 RKW_0613 Dough at "curd" stage. BCM 12-9-14

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I measured all ingredients meticulously but in the end, I was left with over a cup of unused filling.  I think we may not have rolled the dough thin enough. This was apparent because we only had one revolution making a circle and not multiple spiraling layers as we had seen on google images. We did find, using the Wilson pie mat, like a sushi mat, made the dough easier to roll allowing us to keep pressure on the nut mixture and prevent the dough from cracking. Now all we need to do is make more! Which we’ve already started and there’s another batch chilling in the fridge for later.

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The finished product!

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The texture combination of gooey interior, flakey exterior and crunch made these taste pretty good and yes, even this non-coconut lover had seconds!

If you would like to make these royal treats just like Dorie does you can find the recipe over at Leite’s Culinaria. If you would like to read about how this recipe worked for Dorie’s group Baking Chez Moi here’s the link, maybe you’ll want to join us? Before I finished making my rugelach, I found myself reading the groups posts and found Mardi’s experience to be super helpful thanks Mardi!

Happy Baking!

Next up for Tuesdays with Dorie is a Gingerbread Bûche de Noël.

Rachelle and Eva

p.s. This is unrelated to the post other than I would really like to figure out how to get my smaller photos to line up horizontally rather than vertically. On my edit page they show up beautifully sequentially left to right  If anyone has any info on how to do this I would love to know!  Merci.

Cranberry Crackle Tart- Tuesdays with Dorie

Cranberries come twice a year and in my mind are associated with turkey and all the fixin’s. Would I have picked this recipe and said “that’s what I want to make!”? Probably not. This is why I am enjoying the Tuesdays with Dorie group right from the start. In life, it’s great to try new things. Eating my own words as a parent “try it, you won’t know you don’t like it until you try it.” Eva asked me if I like meringue; yes I do. Then, if I liked sweetened cranberries; yes, I do. So she said “Why not put them together and try it?”

The timing was apropos for cranberries, it is Thanksgiving in the US, one of the two times a year I think about these little red bursts of flavor. And we did need to bring a special dessert to our gathering, so this is it.

Winter storm arrives

Eva and I set about pulling our ingredients from the pantry and preparing our crust.  Little did we know (or even our National Weather Service let on they knew) but winter decided to arrive all at once. Heavy, wet snow sticking to itself like packing peanuts to a fleece shirt. As those fat wet flakes congregated on wispy willow branches and fruit trees we paused our work in the kitchen. We donned our hats and rain coats and headed out to save our favorite trees from the weight of the new fallen snow. Like bears looking for honey, we shook the base of the trees as best we could to relive the branches of their heavy load. Sometimes one of us would shake it just right to get the other full of snow. That, Eva thought was the best! However, we paid careful attention to not be in their path as the branches sprung back up as though they were happy to be free.

After we were satisfied that the tree branches would make it we returned to our baking task but quickly noticed our power was out.

BCW Galette Dough

 We set aside our dry ingredients and went about lighting candles and finding headlamps.

Galette Dough Ingredients

Funny things happen when distractions changed our direction. We had put our “ice water” in the freezer to chill however, when the power went out…

Ice water/ Frozen water BCM

 Now that we have “frozen water” we prepped the dish for the crust.

Thankful -buttered dish

 I couldn’t help myself.

Galette Crust

Still thankful under the dough.

Beans for weight!

 Our first time using beans as weights for galette crust under candlelight.

Cranberry Crackle Tart

I have to agree with Dorie in her opening description about Americans in Paris, Thanksgiving, and finding all the ingredients that confirm our nostalgic senses that it is this time of year.

It reminds me of a wonderful Thanksgiving we spent in Paris. Our French hostess, married to an American, set out to make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal for her international guests. She had emailed her Mother in-law for all the family recipes and without knowing what the dishes were supposed to look or taste like she busied herself to tracking down the exotic ingredients. Our gracious hosts went so far as to borrow a friend’s flat that was large enough so they could accommodate our three families. She made many trips bringing all the provisions from it seemed, almost every arrodissement of Paris, which I thought was a feat in itself, let alone preparing the whole meal singlehandedly. Of course I am not surprised, Pascale is a Superwoman. As I write this post, I just found out that she has written and published a cookbook!

Cranberry Crackle Ingredients

The ingredients are straight forward and few.

Cranberry Crackle Tart

The finished Tart!

Cranberry Crackle Tart

This Cranberry Crackle Tart traveled well and was devoured by a large group of ski racers during our Thanksgiving Ski Camp held in Canada this year.

New traditions, trying new things and being thankful no matter where we are this time of year.

~In gratitude Rachelle and Eva

Palets de Dames- Tuesdays with Dorie

What fun we had making these little treats.
I have a new baking and blogging partner this year and she writes about her experience over at Jumpin Bean.

We just joined the Baking Chez Moi, Tuesdays with Dorie Group  as part of her homeschooling adventures and a fun way to spend some quality family time together. We are looking forward to sharing our new experiences with you and baking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Baking Chez Moi as well as learning from our new blogging community!

 

Little Treats

We have cooked with Dorie’s recipes before and have always found her recipes to be clear and concise, so Eva took the lead both in baking and with the camera. I fell to as the prep chef and camera help for this recipe.

Flour starting out

 

We used King Arthur flour this time but next go we decided we would play around with Bluebird Grain Farms Einka Flour and see how it turns out. Eva wanted to do this because she knows Einka flour is packed with nutrients and that could potentially sway me when she asks “just one more, please?”

 

All lined upI am doing my job here as prep chef.

Mix it up

This is Eva’s favorite part, mixing it up and adding the ingredients.

Palet de Dames

The Palets de Dames are ready for the oven. Sadly we don’t have a photo of the finished product, not one. They were eaten so fast and shared with friends that we forgot to snap the shot. We will leave you to your imagination or if you just can’t handle not knowing you can peek at our new blogging communities posts and I am sure you’ll see a final photo there!

happy baking,

Rachelle and Eva

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you to all the wonderful Mothers in the world who make life sweeter for everyone.

Lilac Sugar

To keep the sweet aroma of lilacs after their bloom is done, and around our house that happens quickly, gather some lilac flowers now and layer them in a jar with sugar alternating sugar and flowers. Set the Lilac Sugar in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks and then you will have a lovely scented sugar to use in tea, baking or sauces! I think using the sugar to make cupcakes with candied lilac flowers would be superb!

Whistler me 2010  Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community

Can You Cook With Dry Ice?

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Dry Ice with a Green Laser

The 4 pints of ice cream that we received yesterday is almost gone. No, really. You may be thinking, “How can this be?” Sad though we are… there are only a few spoonfuls left, but our bellies are smiling. The dry ice the pint containers were shipped to us in has completely evaporated into thin air...poof!

Green Laser Light, Water & Dry Ice

The good news is, the magic of this May Day gift hasn’t dissipated into the either just yet. Thoughts about how much fun the dry ice was are still kicking around in our heads. Yes, we know it’s not a toy and every precaution needs to be adhered to, to be safe. But we are not the only ones who find the stuff FUN!

Dry ice-foggy, my memory begins to clear.  One of my favorite gifted recipe books (which I have yet to produce anything from, but adore drooling over the ideas within) is The Fat Duck Cookbook written by the British self taught kitchen wizard Heston Blumenthal. A mad scientist in his culinary circles, he’s pulling at the ears of the scientific world through his unrelenting curiosity (I think this is the wish that nearly every parent has; to keep curiosity alive through adulthood) he creates works of art such as his Radish Ravioli of Oyster (pg.340-341)…for those of you who don’t have this beautiful book you’ll need to close your eyes… no…tighter, so your thoughts are pitch black.

Now construct an image of a space aged glowing globe, with walls made of vellum thin sliced radishes. This glowing radish globe is suspended weightlessly against the black background. Envision a single ring of sliced radishes mimicking a Saturn-esque planet.  I have read that if this work of art radish dish were ordered in his restaurant The Fat Duck, it would be accompanied by a single iPod to further set the mood and complete the experience of the senses. I imagine this to be an encounter that memory never forgets.

Further research shows that Mr. Blumenthal also enjoys the use of liquid nitrogen when cooking. In an article from the Independent he offers a few recipes  to those of us less mad, home-cooks where he can extend his restaurant goal; to invoke the feeling of excitement in his patrons [The Fat Duck History pg 113]. I am sure one could create the mood of excitement in the kitchen if one were inclined to whip up fresh ice cream in 90 seconds!  I know I could (and possibly earn a few cool mom awards as well. ;)

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Dry Ice and Food Coloring!

Still curious? The list is long for dry ice uses, some I would never have thought of but one I might try is the method of flash freezing fresh fruit. I could see this speeding up my current process of freezing fruit overnight on a cookie sheet and allowing for more garden time!  I found this handy site if you would like to learn more.

Happy Weekend to you!

<img src= Width="604" height= "401" alt= "rachellekweymuller weymullerphotography" title= "rachellekweymuller weymullerphotography"/>   Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community!

Parfait! A Perfect May Day Surprise!

The tradition of May Day is celebrated around the globe. Each culture has its own take but the traditions boil down to spreading kindness to another.

As a kid I remember leaving little bouquets of hand picked flowers at our neighbors door and enjoying the anonymous aspect of it, or at least I thought I was being sneaky, I’m sure they knew.

Hand picked flowers Hannah WP

Now a quarter mile from my next adult neighbor and further from those with children, no flowers land on our doorstep and well we haven’t a doorbell either, no fun meter here. Yes, life is hard here in the countryside. However, due to modern technology we no longer hike up hill both ways in a snow storm to get to school, we drive and thankfully so does the UPS truck.

Image 30 no logo WP Parfait

You see May Day surprises are still possible. May 1st I found a peculiar box at our front door. Yes, I know who physically left it and so does my dog who is now enjoying his treat.

Image 31no logo parfait box WP

I look really surprised

Peculiar because it had ICE CREAM printed all over it. Could it really be? You gotta hand it to today’s transportation system. I knew you could ship live baby chicks but ice cream too? Parfait I say, well not really but that too was printed all over the box as well.

Image 28 no logo parfait WP EVA

Giddy with curiosity that someone would send us ice cream and full of excitement my family opened the box. Front and center we find a “caution dry ice” letter. All of a sudden this gift has an added bonus, ice cream and a learning opportunity/science experiment!

Image 29 caution parfait WP

Image 25 Eva no logo WP Parfait Image 26 Image 32

Image 34 Parfait no logo Eva ice WP

Finding out what happens when…

Image 37 Eva, dry ice Parfait

Dry Ice mixes with apple juice

Image 33 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

The excitement begins!

Image 36 Eva Dry Ice Parfait WP

pretty fun…

Science!

Science at it’s best…and fun to watch too!

Image 14 May Day Glo WP

Or, in the sink with water!

Upon further inspection we found the packing slip which spilled the beans on the delicious flavors within.

~Meyer Lemon
What they say it tastes like: Imagine the same sweet and tangy goodness of lemon curd frozen into a smooth and creamy ice cream. We use Meyer lemons, which are thin-skinned and delicately perfumed.

~Mint Stracciatella
What they say it tastes like: Our mint doesn’t taste like candy canes, but rather fresh mint, straight from the garden. That’s because we steep our custard with real organic spearmint leaves from Marigold and Mint. Our delicate, chocolate flakes are made using TCHO organic chocolate and traditional Italian methods.

~Fleur de Caramel
What they say it tastes like: A traditional French caramel with a silky texture and beautiful amber color. We use just the right amount of genuine Fleur de Sel to bring out the deep caramel taste. Neither overly salty nor cloyingly sweet.


~ We also found out who the sender was…Thank you Ira and Courtney for sending such a fun and yummy gift!

funny factoid:

For all those who have spontaneously declared some sort of resolution and broken it before it began…I’ll add I too can sympathize. Not just 2 hours before that peculiar box arrived I had spurted the words ” I think I’ll give up sugar for the month of May”

…maybe the second half of the month of May.

Bon appetit!

Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ caramelize life

“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Re-remembering To Focus On What Matters Most

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Kids Watching Impending Weather RKWeymuller Photography

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Keeping the outside world in perspective must have been what I needed to learn these past few weeks. This month my computer gave up and died.  So, I went from the autobahn of internet functionality to a small country road and, truth be told, my phone’s keyboard was not a joy to write from, hence my absence this last week from posting.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Red Tulip Lanes RKWeymuller Weymullerphotography

I’m gradually inching my way back, configuring my new computer and merging from the slow single lane dirt roads back to pavement and the fast pace of the online freeway. Somewhere along the way, I realized that sometimes an unexpected diversion, as maddening as it may be, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Seeds got started,

Garden Snap Peas with Innoculant

Inoculated Garden Snap Peas!

games were played,

Life Size Chess Game Won RKWeymuller Weymuller Photography

Wahoo!

Focus shifted and family life was highlighted.

RachelleKWeymuller Caramelize Life Weymuller Photography  Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

“Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

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